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(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s counselors work to become trusted allies of students.

Amy Buchanan, a TSTC Counseling and Mental Health Services counselor for the college’s four West Texas campuses, said her responsibility is to help students — especially those in their first year of college — cope with different situations.

“Life doesn’t stop just because someone has enrolled in college. They still have jobs, families and relationships to take care of, on top of all that comes with being in college,” she said. “The counselors help our students by becoming a part of their support system. We help students with mental health issues, stress management, time management, organizational skills and so many more issues.”

Buchanan recently discussed some of the challenges that counselors can help students with.

What are some of the mental health issues that students can have when starting college?

College is a whole new world when students are first entering it. It’s a hard adjustment that can be stressful and overwhelming. The majority of the time, those feelings start to look like anxiety and can also turn into depression. For college students across the United States, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue that they deal with.

What can students do to keep up their mental health?

Students can make simple adjustments to keep up their mental health. They can work out, sometimes as simple as a 15-minute walk, eat healthy, make sure that they’re getting enough sleep every night, work smarter and not harder, get organized, manage their time inside and outside of the classroom, find people that will help support them during their time in college, and breathe. It will be OK. 

What is the most important thing for you when meeting a new college student for their first session?

There are really two things that I think are the most important. 

The first is that everything they talk to us about is completely confidential. There are certain circumstances where we have to let the proper authorities know what’s going on, but we don’t go around and tell your business to anyone else in the TSTC community. 

The second most important thing that I let our students know is that finding the right counselor is like shopping for a car. You may need to test-drive a couple before you find the right fit. We want to make sure that the students know that they’re not stuck with us. The student needs to get the most out of counseling that they can, and if the first counselor is not the best fit for them, that’s not a problem. We can get them connected with one of the other eight counselors across the state. 

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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