Fairfield students have only just completed midterms season, and with that, the mad dash to the end of the semester has started. The second half of a semester is a notoriously stressful time, where burnout and other mental health issues can ensue.
To provide an outlet to students, The Office of Counseling and Psychological Services provided The Mirror with information on resources available. C&PS offers an assortment of resources throughout the year to support students, and offer additional resources during finals and midterms.
During the year, students can take advantage of free individual counseling sessions as counselors are available to students during regular office hours Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments can be made online or by phone at 203 254-4000 ext. 2146.
Students also detail additional resources they would like to see implemented on campus, as well as an overall lack of knowledge on many of the resources offered.
Many students make use of individualized counseling, as Angelus Mendoza ‘25 states how she “feels comfortable turning to them in times of stress.”
Likewise, Skye DeRaffelle ‘25 has utilized the counseling and psychological office. She found them to be “useful and easily accessible” and that she also “feels comfortable turning to them for life stresses.”
In addition to individual counseling, group therapy sessions are also offered throughout the school year.
“I am attending grief group therapy sessions this semester after struggling with academics and have found that listening to others in these sessions is very beneficial, and is very accessible as they [C&PS] try to work with your schedule,” Chris Pozzuto ‘25 shares.
Additional resources outside of traditional therapy sessions are offered to students throughout the year, as throughout the semester, C&PS collaborates with other departments on numerous wellness initiatives.
Health and Wellness Coordinator Pam Paulmann states that “Our team gives presentations and offers programming to smaller groups through the Health & Wellness Committee.”
“Some examples include, stress relief yoga at the RecPlex on Wednesdays at noon, and on location office hours at the [Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs] office,” she says. Paulmann continues to mention that, “Mindful meditation is offered through the Fairfield University Museum twice a week with Jackie DeLise in person or virtually.”
Furthermore, events and initiatives that bring awareness to specific movements are another way that C&PS creates and sustains conversations about mental health on campus.
Sophomore Daniel Buck touched upon the importance of these events. “I find the events and movements on campus to be very influential in reducing stigma around mental health, as when I see people participating and spreading information on mental health crises and more, I am influenced by their dedication and want to learn more for myself.”
So far this semester, C&PS has partnered with Campus Ministry, Prevention Resource Office and Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality to bring speakers to campus and to raise awareness for specific causes on campus.
Some of the speakers that C&PS have brought to campus have included a Fairfield University alumni who talked about his struggle with addiction and alcoholism, as well a conversation on manhood that was geared towards learning how to promote healthy concepts of manhood on campus and beyond.
Recently, Elli Hansie, a Fairfield native that founded her clothing company, Hanesie, spoke about her struggle with mental health and how she promotes mental health awareness through her brand in order to reduce the stigma and start the conversation.
Likewise, Stags Wear Purple took place on Oct. 20, National Wear Purple Day, which was a meaningful way to raise awareness for dating and domestic violence on Fairfield’s campus.
Specifically, during midterms and finals, C&PS offers additional resources as these events often cause additional stress and anxiety for students due to the impact that they have on their grades.
Paulmann shares that “During finals week we [C&PS] partner with the library and others to offer stress relief suggestions including ice packs and visits with our beloved Dog, Dakota.” Additionally, “The Fairfield Art Museum offers students free art kits as another option for students to relieve stress,” she adds.
“During finals week our office offers walk-in days so students can just drop in to talk with someone,” notes Paulmann.
Walk-in hours are not only available during finals week, as walk-in appointments are always available for students who are in “crisis or urgent need,” says Paulmann. She continues that “Our staff [is] also available to assist after hours in cases of emergency and if a student is experiencing a mental health emergency after hours or on the weekend, the students should contact Public Safety who will then coordinate with the on-call counselor.”
Deraffele adds that in addition to C&PS resources, there are academic organizations on campus that can help to relieve stress throughout midterms or finals season. She states that “the writing center and tutoring sessions for certain subjects are good resources to utilize, especially during midterms and finals week.”
Although C&PS has a plethora of resources available to students, a lot of students become unknowledgeable about these resources after their first semester at college.
First-Year Experience (FYE), a class mandatory for all first-year students to help better adjust new students to life at college, played a main role in advertising C&PS offerings.
Sophomore Lauren Martland comments on her lack of knowledge of C&PS offerings after completion of her FYE class.
“We learned a lot about the offerings in FYE and even had a representative come in and go over them with us, but since then I have forgotten about the specifics and do not really see them advertised around campus,” Martland states.
Buck adds to her statement about the lack of knowledge after FYE ended.
Buck states, “Honestly, I’m not really knowledgeable about the counseling that the school offers. I wish I knew more about them, but I haven’t seen or heard much about them since about the first month of freshman year.”
Students also contribute ideas for further mental health and stress relief resources they would like to see implemented on campus.
Martland stated that “we need therapy dogs to visit more often,” and concluded that “all schools across campus should get their own stress dog.”
“I would love pop-up group meditation sessions led by a specialist to help with stress during trying times in the semester,” added DeRaffele.
C&PS still offers telehealth appointments to all students, even as the university has moved away from other COVID protocols. Online counseling could still remain at Fairfield University as the advantages of online therapy are numerous. An article published by The Mirror last semester details the benefits of online counseling for students, as it allows for flexibility and a greater sense of comfort and privacy.
In addition, C&PS touched upon the introduction of the platform Togetherall, stating that “This year we [C&PS] have subscribed to Togetherall, an online peer to peer mental health support community, they said. This robust resource is free for all Fairfield University students and available 24/7.”
Students who wish to utilize Counseling and Psychological Services should either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-254-4000, x2146.