By Raymond Wildey
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – A new mental health counseling program has come to the Blackwood campus of Camden County College.
Starting in January of this year, mental health counseling became available for all students. It is led by new counselor Heather Bense, who has 15 years experience and a doctorate in clinical social work. She has worked in higher education for the last seven years.
Beginning the program went smoothly and college community members were helpful, Bense said.
Several students said although they feel a stigma surrounds mental health, they would feel comfortable using the service if the need arose, but they added they hadn’t heard about the service at the college
One student, Emma P., said she thought the college could do more to promote the program. “I haven’t seen any signs. They could definitely do more,” she stated.
“I haven’t heard about mental health services,” student Taylor Didonato said, although posters have been hung around the campus and material has been placed on the college website.
About publicizing the program, Bense noted, “It’s a relatively new program. We put posters all over the campus. Also, we did a social media blast and even ran ads on the college radio station.”
If a student is feeling mentally unwell or unstable, they would discover posters all over campus, Bense said. These posters, which can be placed on doors across campus and offer critical information that could assist a mentally ill student, such as the phrases “you are not alone” written in bold font, can be found hanging on doors. Bense’s contact information is included on the posters. Individual counseling and psychotherapy, care management or referral assistance and walk-in counseling and support are all listed on the posters. The posters also have the website address for more information about these services.
Students can go to the college’s website to learn more about this service. Walk-in therapy is available on the Blackwood campus from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, while on the Camden city campus it is is available from noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Information about Oaks Integrated Care, NJ Hopeline, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline crisis text line, Camden County College’s Office of Public Safety and the Crisis Screening Center are also available on the website.