The transitional times of college often foster struggles in students. While stress and anxiety are commonplace, denial, social stigmas, and fear of ostracism often drive people with mental disorders away from seeking treatment. Virginia Tech offers resources for those dealing with mental health issues.

Health and Wellness at Virginia Tech is comprised of five offices — Schiffert Health Center, Cook Counseling Center, Services for Students with Disabilities, Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, and Recreational Sports.

“Probably the most common office that people go to is Cook Counseling Center,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Richard Ferraro said. “We have a fair number of students who will come to campus with fairly serious medical conditions — psychiatric conditions, psychological conditions related to anxiety, depression, could be bipolar, sometimes even psychosis.”

Cook Counseling Center has 18 different counselors, the majority of whom are Ph.D.’s in clinical or counseling psychology. In addition, there are two full-time psychiatrists and two psychiatric nurses at the center who specialize in medication-based as well as talk therapy. Service is provided for students dealing with a wide range of issues.

“Lots of times, students will walk in with a friend,” Ferraro said, emphasizing that confidentiality is a priority. “We also have, of course, a lot of people who are coming in just dealing with situational stuff. They’re perfectly in good shape in terms of mental health, but they may have gone through a broken relationship or their parents got divorced.”

Ferraro described the center as “one of the best centers in this whole region in terms of the ability to get psychological counseling.”

The center sponsors free workshops in Squires Student Center on topics ranging from study skills, stress and time management, dealing with anger and aggression, to yoga and meditation. The different branches of Health and Wellness occasionally collaborate to serve students with a variety of therapeutic approaches to recovery.

“We have a program that works between Recreation Sports and the counseling center,” Ferraro said, “and it deals with programs of exercise.”

Ferraro expressed his confidence in the efficacy of Virginia Tech and its mental health resources.

“This is a very healthy student body. When we look at where we rank according to other schools, in terms of basic mental health and things like that, we probably have a student body that is more optimistic, more well-established, more well-balanced than many,” Ferraro said. “I think there’s something about the Hokie spirit here that really is true and it tends to make a pretty upbeat place.”



Written by Emily Hughes of Ashburn, Va., a freshman majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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