By: Evan Maggiore
Two support groups at Western Michigan University help students cope with the stresses of college life.
New this semester is Fresh Faces, a support group for incoming students at WMU. The group provides a space and an opportunity to talk privately about the struggles of being a first-time student on campus, including homesickness, relationship issues, adjusting to the academic requirements of college and roommate issues.
“This group was developed to give freshmen a safe and confidential place to discuss their struggles with others,” said Brian Fuller, Ph.D, one of the creators of the group.
Even though Fresh Faces has just started and there has not been a large turnout, Fuller said that he expects the group to grow through word of mouth from those who attended the Fresh Faces meetings and from the people from Sindecuse. Information has also spread through marketing. The hope is that more students will join as the semester progresses.
The other support group at WMU is Chillax. Chillax started last year and teaches students techniques to combat their stress, such as positive self-talk, which is giving motivational messages to oneself.
“Chillax is one of our most popular groups,” says Dr. Geniene Gersh, director of counseling services at Sindecuse Health Center at Western Michigan University.
Gersh said the reason why it is crucial for college students to manage their stress is so that may be “successful both academically and personally.”
The physical symptoms of stress that affect those not only in college, but people in general, include feeling restless, fatigued, having concentration problems, changes in eating habits, and withdrawing from social situations.
Prevention is important in reducing stress. The Sindecuse Health Center has let students know that the counseling center’s services are available at events such as the Bronco Bash. The counseling center has made an exhibit at the Health and Wellness Expo at the recreational center on campus.
“The belief is that by letting the students be aware of the services that Sindecuse provides, the less Western students will suffer from stress,” Gersh said.