Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Office of Counseling Services (OCS) welcomed students and faculty to their annual open house on Feb. 7 at their new location on Gamble Street.
OCS relocated to 636 Gamble Street, across from FAMU Village residence hall. In efforts to increase visibility and reduce stigma, OCS arranged an open day for participants to meet counselors, learn more about the services and new initiatives being offered this semester.
Dr. Chika Hooper, OCS outreach coordinator, organized the fun, stress-free event to engage with students and offer them more insight about counseling services.
“The reality is that many individuals, especially minorities, may be a little fearful or don’t quite understand what counseling is all about, so this open house allows them to come in, grab a treat, listen to music, ask questions and get comfortable with counseling services,” Dr. Hooper said.
“Events like these are not just important – they’re vital and essential. People need to know that they don’t have to be alone, and you can work on the problems in your life,” Dr. Hooper added. “We need these events and programs to make our office and services more visible, so students can know that we’re here to help.”
In efforts to further connect with students, OCS has created new programs and teamed up with other organizations on campus to bring more awareness to solutions of mental health challenges that students face.
Dr. Hooper is a co-advisor for the FAMU chapter of Active Minds, a student organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health to educate others and encourage help-seeking.
Active Minds is scheduled to collaborate with Voices, a student poetry group, to host “Love on the Brain” on Feb. 13. The event will showcase music, poetry, intimacy and address issues about relationships in college.
OCS has also coordinated a Silent March, partnering with organizations on campus including Active Minds, Progressive Black Men and SISTUHS, which will be later in February. This is an event where students will rally together to celebrate survivors of sexual assault and ten students will share their testimonials.
“It’s important for us, as students, to have a space to share information and not feel judged,” added Zion Alexander, a FAMU Allied Health science student. “I’m all about the free, so I feel good knowing that I can go to counseling services without having to spend extra money.”
OCS currently services more than 3,000 students each academic year. OCS offers free confidential services to students, such as individual counseling, group counseling, couples counseling, psychiatric consultation, academic support and victim advocate services.
Gabrielle Hall, a freshman information technology student, believes that OCS is making a positive impact in the lives of the students its counselors service.
“Millennials are known as the anxious generation, because we don’t know how to deal with stress and pressures of the world as well as our elders,” Hall said. “Mental health counseling is important because everyone has their demons they fight every day. Sometimes people may need extra help combating those issues.”
Although the struggles of college and life in general may be stressful, there are free resources available for all FAMU students.
The center is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Extended hours are also offered on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. by appointment only.
For more information regarding the Office of Counseling Services, please call (850) 599-3145.