Let’s Talk sees growth despite counseling stigma

Monique Marsh-Bell, a psychologist at Baylor “Let’s Talk” center, is helping to redefine the negative stigmas against counseling.  Lariat File Photo
Monique Marsh-Bell, a psychologist at Baylor “Let’s Talk” center, is helping to redefine the negative stigmas against counseling.
Lariat File Photo

By Amanda Hayes

Following a campaign to engage students in the minority community and break stigmas associated with counseling, the counseling center’s Let’s Talk program has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who use its services, said Monique Marsh-Bell, a psychologist at the center.

This comes after an initiative by the center last semester to increase awareness about the programs on campus and let students know they do not have to be dealing with huge issues to come talk to counselors, Marsh-Ball said.

A number of surveys were sent to students last semester, which Marsh-Bell said confirmed there is a negative stigma attached to counseling that makes students cautious to go to the counseling center, as previously reported by the Lariat.

“There’s a misconception that students can only come to the counseling center if there is something significantly wrong with them,” Marsh-Bell said. “The counseling center is available to discuss anything the students wants to talk about, whether it’s changing their major or a roommate issue.”

Let’s Talk is a service designed by the counseling center for students who need quick advice and don’t want the traditional weekly counseling session, Marsh-Bell said. The program is free, there is no appointment necessary and anything discussed with a consultant remains confidential. The first-come, first-served meetings take place from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays on the third floor Multicultural Affairs conference room in the Bill Daniel Student Center.

The Multicultural Affairs department partnered with the development of this program, Marsh-Bell said, because they see a need for students of minorities or disabilities that don’t feel as comfortable to receive help.

In some cultures, it is seen as taboo to discuss one’s problems with anyone outside the family, Marsh-Bell said. The counseling center and Multicultural Affairs work together to understand cultural differences and to earn the trust of students.

“Students here are generally driven and independent,” Marsh-Bell said. “They don’t want to ask for help, as they see asking for help as a failure.”

Sharyl Loeung, resource specialist for Multicultural Affairs, said other schools were doing this successfully, so Baylor counselors thought the program would be a good idea.

The spring semester can bring tremendous stress to students, but with a student body full of achievers, Loeung said, students might avoid seeking help.

Incoming students take the Clifton StrengthsFinder test, which identifies their top five strengths in order to reveal the areas in which they have the most potential to grow and thrive. At Baylor, Loeung said the no. one strength found in Baylor students is achiever.

With this mentality, Loeung said students generally want to be the best at everything they do and feel embarrassed to seek help.

Marsh-Bell said she hopes students will give the service a try and realize the importance of taking care of oneself both physically and emotionally.

“Seeking counseling doesn’t mean you’re in crisis, but could prevent you from reaching that point,” Loeung said.