CMU Center for Counseling and Community Development prepared for pandemic’s mental health impact

The Center for Counseling and Community Development at Central Michigan University is offering free in-person and telemental health services; the CCCD’s Director, Michael Verona, hopes these services will curb the long-term mental health effects likely to be caused by the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CCCD focuses on providing counseling services for individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, substance abuse, relationships, family conflicts, and academic or career stress. However, Verona says the large majority of new clients seeking the CCCD’s services have cited COVID-19 as one reason for their distress.

“Stress is something that occurs when something that we love is threatened or even lost and, over the last few months, most of us have experienced this,” says Verona. “When people push down their stress and anxiety, it’s going to come out in some way. It might come out physically or it might come out in behavior that historically is not that person’s behavior.”

Physical symptoms of stress include chest tightness, the sensation of not being able to breathe, muscle tension, aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, an inability to relax, restlessness, and even digestive issues. The long-term effects of stress can result in ailments ranging from mild anxiety to PTSD, says Verona.

“If you have this long-term persistent stress and anxiety there is a very good possibility that it may continue,” says Verona. “Counseling is a way to process those issues with an unbiased, objective person.”

Verona says that everyone can benefit from having a counselor to vent to or bounce ideas off of; however, it’s especially important to see a counselor if whatever issue is bothering an individual takes up a substantial part of their day.

Verona says the large majority of new clients seeking the CCCD’s services have cited COVID-19 as one reason for their distress.
Even before the pandemic, the Great Lakes Bay Region was experiencing a mental health crisis according to the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership. Verona says the CCCD has lots of availability and qualified professionals to help treat the region’s mental health crisis and the effects of COVID-19.

“We have students and professionals ready to speak to clients today and we are ready for whatever number of people come in,” says Verona.

A large part of the mental health crisis in the Great Lakes Bay Region is the stigma surrounding mental health and mental health treatment. Verona says hesitancy to seek out mental health treatment due to stigma is completely natural and the CCCD’s number one priority is patient privacy and confidentiality.

“You’re considering getting vulnerable and telling someone you may not know some of the things that you don’t want to share with anyone. These are feelings that are deep — that you don’t share with anybody — and that’s natural,” says Verona. “That’s the benefit of counseling right there: you are going to get some stuff off your chest that might be causing some of that anxiety.”

To schedule an appointment, visit the CCCD’s website or call (989)-774-3532.

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