My name is Cara Stedman and as a fourth year, this is my final Co-Op before graduation! Excited to gain experience in the mental health field, I decided to take a Co-Op position at Antioch College working full-time for the Counseling Services Department, where I previously worked during classes part-time. This department at Antioch is dedicated to providing and improving on resources for student mental health, which is often impacted by physical health as well. In this position, I work with my supervisor Kelsey Hofer and members of the community to determine long-term projects/goals focused on student needs, to improve overall mental health.
Antioch College’s mission in higher education is well known. However, my department’s mission is centered around supporting students to attain their individual and collective goals. . Currently, the counseling department page has not been updated since previous staff changes. Part of my responsibility in this is ensuring that the department information and resources are communicated effectively to current and future students. I have helped Kelsey reach out to the department(s) in charge of updating the website with the new information on services, and helped put together new resource pamphlets for incoming students. In addition, I submitted an article to The Record to introduce our new nurse and counselor.
I have also worked on other tasks to ensure students are receiving the correct information they need on their road to success. One of these ways is to update the bulletin boards in Pennell House to include new information on the counseling and nurse resources available on campus. I have also updated the boards to include information on sexual health. I have worked with Michelle, the nurse, to ensure that the information on these billboards is correct and gender-affirming. I have also started a topic for discussion on the whiteboard in the doctor’s waiting room of “what do students want to see?” that we can update as each student’s needs are met.
One of the student needs I wanted to meet, personally, is the updating and cozying up of the Peaceful Place. When I received the goal of getting more students to use the peaceful place, I was really excited to use my thinking skills to design a room that would cater to student mental health needs. Deciding on different sensory calming elements I looked for plants, pillows, weighted blankets, scent diffusers, low/warm lights, and sensory toys. I have already filled out multiple purchase requests to spend the grant money secured to update our mental health spaces. Rearranging the furniture to reflect what I felt was a more comfortable position, I have already noticed students using the Peaceful Place as a hangout space. In addition, students feel comfortable approaching me while I have hours in the Peaceful Place to discuss matters that concern them about student mental health.
Working at this co-op has really brought me closer to students and the campus community. I think that my roles as a counseling coordinator have brought me closer to more faculty as a result. With my responsibilities here, I felt I am being given an opportunity to help student wellbeing in ways that many students never see. I have gotten to work one-on-one with many staff, faculty, and students that otherwise don’t interact with. My responsibilities in this job have only served to strengthen my commitment to improving mental health throughout not only my community here at Antioch, but as something that will carry into future scholarly and professional work.