OCCC Looks To Expand Counseling Services Offered To Increase Student Engagement

By Zoe Taylor – Pioneer Reporter

(PIONEER) Oklahoma City Community College offers free and confidential counseling with professional counselors to students. Counseling offered through this service helps students work through over a dozen topics allowing them to focus on their education. 

The Student Accessibility and Support office currently offers three different services: counseling, disability services, and veteran services.

The Director of Student Accessibility and Support, Kevin Eddings, noticed that the counseling service was not used as frequently as some of the other services and wanted to improve student engagement.

Eddings decided to send a university-wide survey to all students. He said the purpose of the survey was to gauge how students feel towards counseling and identify gaps.

Counseling services are there for student use, and Edding states he wants to see how students would like to approach counseling to ensure their maximum benefit.

After the data is collected from the survey, the office staff can see which demographics do not take advantage of the counseling services. From there, they can make an effort to make those groups feel more welcome and do more targeted outreach.

Eddings emphasized how OCCC’s counseling services can be beneficial to all.

“Often people think mental health has to be something like depression, bipolar or schizophrenia and any of those kinds of things,” Eddings stated. “While that is part of it, all of us need someone to talk to sometimes.”

Day-to-day stressors for students, like exams, are a topic that counselors sometimes address. They help relieve students’ stress by guiding them and giving de-stressing tactics.

Currently, counseling services offer help with depression, loneliness, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, disordered eating, abuse issues, procrastination, family problems, cultural/ethnic concerns, substance abuse, difficulties with concentration/attention, suicidal thoughts, and more.

The Student Accessibility and Support office (Photo by Zoe Taylor)

The only requirement to attend a counseling session is that students must be active students at OCCC.

Up until recently, counseling appointments could only be booked through an online booking system. Eddings stated that the office is currently looking into more user-friendly and secure ways for students to make appointments.

Said Eddings, “Our counselors are concerned about the Navigate platform not being confidential enough. So we are in the process of getting a different one that goes into our system, which is 100% confidential.”

OCCC’s Counseling services offer 50-minute sessions via Zoom, telephone, or in-person at the Student Accessibility and Support Office near the Student Life location in the main building on campus.

Eddings said, “I think students need to know that this counseling thing is first and foremost free and confidential, and [the services] are the exact same thing you would spend 150 dollars out there in the community for. It is free for students, you just have to call and make an appointment.”

According to the OCCC website, counselors can “provide referrals to community services and provide group opportunities to address a variety of resolutions of issues that can deter student success.”For more information about OCCC’s counseling services visit occc.edu/support/counseling/.