McDaniel prioritizes students’ physical and mental health

November 10, 2008

During the past few years, and especially since last year’s shooting attack at Virginia Tech, college counselors have reported a consistent increase in the number of students seeking treatment and the severity of the mental conditions that on-campus health professionals are seeing.

“People’s awareness has increased, which is not a bad thing,” said Susan Glore, who oversees McDaniel’s Wellness Center, which includes the college’s health clinic and counseling center and is housed on the second floor of Winslow Center.

Glore said that students sometimes arrive at college with previously diagnosed mental or physical issues that require ongoing treatment. That early identification has been helpful in giving students the opportunity to attend college despite these issues, but it also has meant that the college’s health professionals face the huge task of helping students manage those conditions and their treatment.

With the goal of providing the most comprehensive solutions for students, the college’s Health and Counseling centers merged this semester to form the Wellness Center.

College is about getting an education, but a student’s well-being, and how it is managed, is a huge piece of how successful that student can be in school and beyond, Glore said.

“The idea is to approach wellness more holistically,” said Glore, who is one of the center’s counselors. “We can’t separate the classroom experience from wellness. If you’re medically or physically ill, your health is going to affect your capacity to learn. It’s all so interconnected.”

To encourage even more students to use the Wellness Center’s services, Glore and her staff – which includes two other counselors, two registered nurses, and a certified physician assistant – have been seeking ways to get their message out across the campus.

One of those ways has been the development of a student advisory board, made up of eight students who are studying in health-related fields.

Acting on a recent suggestion from the board, the Wellness Center staff is visiting residence halls during the evenings to offer flu shots to students. Glore said a visit this week to Whiteford Hall included a “hand-washing clinic,” during which students washed their hands and then looked at them under a special light to see how well, or poorly, they had washed.

Glore is hoping to do more such outreach activities on campus throughout the school year.

For many students, heading off the college is their first time away from home for an extended period. It’s an exciting time that ushers in a multitude of opportunities to flourish academically, to thrive personally and to expand one’s view of the world.

It’s also a challenging time that can bring on an avalanche of stress, something that people respond to in different ways.

Typical reasons that students may seek help from the Wellness Center include:
• medical treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, including suturing of minor lacerations
• over-the-counter and prescription medication for treatment of common illnesses
• immunizations and allergy shots
• counseling services in dealing with such issues as adjustment to college; separating from old friends; troubled relationships; feeling sad or depressed; rape/sexual assault; feeling anxious; feeling distracted or unable to concentrate; alcohol and other drug use; and difficulty sleeping

The Wellness Center also helps students with concerns regarding alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, AIDS, wellness, weight control, acne and eating disorders. In addition, the professional staff can provide referrals to off-campus specialists and facilities for further treatment.

The center offers various educational programs on topics such as smoking cessation, acupuncture, massage and women’s health issues.

Services are available around-the-clock. The Wellness Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students may schedule appointments with the center by calling 410-857-2243.

For after-hours emergencies, students can contact the on-call area coordinator or campus safety at 410-857-2202 or 2202 from an on-campus phone.