Mental wellness resources: Why, when, how can students use them?

Published by Jazmin Ode on

Man wearing dark glasses smiles to the right. Behind him on the right are red flowers with white flowers on the left.. He is wearing a long navy blue shirt with a light blue shirt peeking out at his collar. There is a yellow lanyard around his neck.
Casey Kohl, a wellness counselor, enjoys the blooming flowers on campus. Kohls has been a wellness counselor for 22 years. Robin Bailey / The Mainstream

Traversing mental health can be difficult for anyone, but when quizzes, tests and a mountain of schoolwork are added into a daily schedule, student can feel helpless. According to Forbes Health, “about a third of adults overall (32.3%) reported anxiety and depression symptoms in 2023.” At UCC, students can find help through on-campus wellness counselor Casey Kohl.

Counselors and other mental health professionals are there to help, “(e)xplore your choices with you and guide you through thinking about (memories or experiences),” according to Open Counseling. These sessions are also a time for individuals to get help to construct a plan to reach their desired goals.

Before becoming a counselor, Kohl wanted to get a job in education or social services. Then, in college, Kohl took his first abnormal psychology class. “I was hooked,” Kohl said. “I went out and bought a (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) DSM. Kohl bought that extra test on a broke student’s budget and then read it over Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

This is when Kohl realized counseling was where he wanted to be. Since graduation, Kohl has been a counselor for 22 years.

Mental health illustration that states the number to the Trail to Wellness hotline, the Adapt Mobil Crisis line, and the counselor Casey Kohl.
Students can use the serves above if in crisis or need support. Individuals who are concerned for a student’s activities or demeanor can fill out a CARE Referral. Illustration by Jazmin Ode

To access Kohl and other mental wellness assistance, students can find many resources on UCC’s Counseling Services webpage. Since coming to campus, Kohl has helped create a support/crisis phoneline called “Trail to Wellness” that students can call 24/7/365. Trail to Wellness is for students “taking 6 or more credits,” according to UCC’s Campus Wellness Resources website. “Students are provided six (sessions) per calendar year,” Kohl said.

Students who have less than six credits can contact Kohl via email,, or can call 541-440-7896 to get help with finding people in the community that can help with the students’ quandary. Students can also use Adapt Integrated Health Care crisis line.

Kohl realizes that he can’t meet all students’ needs by himself. “The one benefit that has happened in our industry since COVID was telehealth,” Kohl said. “So, a person living in Roseburg can see any therapist who is licensed in Oregon no matter where that therapist lives.”

Sometimes a crisis happens outside of Kohl’s working hours. “Some people have family situations or relationship situations that become very stressful. So, if it’s 2 a.m., and you have just been fighting with your significant other, family members or someone like that and you are feeling really, really distressed, telehealth would be an option that you have to reach out.”

Since he is the only counselor on staff, Kohl has to stretch himself thin at times. “Generally speaking, (sessions with me are) more of a short-term type of treatment because I am the only one here, and I could become very full very quickly,” Kohl said, “So, if I am unable to provide help, I have to do some triage, unfortunately.”

Kohl uses a clinical perspective to decide which students will see monthly verses on an as-needed basis. “I definitely try to get people in the right direction to get them help that they need,” Kohl said. Kohl also relies on things like the stress level of the patient to decide the appropriate amount of time between visits. “If I knew someone had gotten out of a psychiatric hospital, I would want to see them the next day after they were out. So, I can be like ‘Hey, how are you doing?’” Kohl said.

Over the years, Kohl has done many things to help people, like moving around his entire schedule. “Sometimes, I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I can fit you in. Ok, well, I can eat lunch in 10 minutes. Come in at this time,’” Kohl said.

Man sits with his left leg crossed over his other leg. He is wearing glasses, a dark green long sleeved shirt, jeans, and gray tennis shoes. Around his neck is a yellow lanyard. His hands are positioned together as he is in the middle of talking.  He is in his office with a diploma hanging on the wall behind him and a dresser behind him to the left.
Casey Kohl, a wellness counselor, sits in his office where sessions are conducted. Kohl is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Robin Bailey / The Mainstream

When Kohl has a patient who may be a danger to themselves or others, he starts with an assessment that requires a lot of detail. Kohl’s next step is seeing if the individual would be able to cooperate in a “safety plan”. “If not, then they might have to be placed in a psychiatric facility,” Kohl said.

“Hospitalization is a last resort. Hospitalization is there because it is needed at certain times,” Kohl said. “If people who aren’t quite to that level are going to the hospital, it doesn’t lead to good things and good outcomes, unfortunately.”

Safety plans can look like Kohl helping the individual reach out to family or sitting down with the student and helping them with scheduling their day. “It’s about being creative with the safety plan,” Kohl said. “These things are only limited to your imagination.”

Identifying when professional help is needed marks the initial step towards seeking support. One of the most significant indicators of requiring specialist assistance is when someone regularly has thoughts of harming themselves or others and “(a)nything that really impacts the ability to function. Those are the major red flags,” Kohl said.

Seeking professional help can be difficult for some. According to Open Counseling, “(r)evisiting traumatic memories can put you back in the same flight-or-fight mode as the event you’re remembering,” and individuals may also undergo a “stress reaction” when they articulate specific emotions.

Those that recognize a regression or decay in a student’s activities or demeanor can fill out a Student of Concern (CARE Team) Referral. This document, once summited, will get members of UCC staff on campus that are on the CARE team. Depending on the reasons for filling out the CARE Referral will reflect on what contact the student will be sent, such as if it was a concern for mental health. The student in question would get a check-in email with Kohl’s information.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to recognize the impact and learn how to reduce stigmas affiliated with mental illness.

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