Mental Health: Out of Sight, Out of Mind


Kate Agbayani

The counseling services located on the third floor of Parks Student Union. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those between the ages of 10 and 24 in the United States, with depression being the first leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Kate Agbayani
Joel Henry, an EvCC student, had a friend pass from suicide in high school.

Joel Henry, a current student at EvCC, has experienced this firsthand. His friend committed suicide in 2015 just months before their high school graduation. They were supposed to graduate together.

“He never really told anyone,” said Henry, “He was apparently good at hiding it because I never noticed.”

Now in his last year at EvCC, Henry reflects on the passing of his friend, stating, “It’ll get better over time. You may never know the reason why they did it, but it’s a fact that you’ll come to accept. They probably don’t want you to suffer if they can see how you are right now.”

Anxiety and depression continue to be the highest cause of concern among college students as stated in the 2016 report by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Kate Agbayani
Chase Leonard has battled with anxiety and depression since he was a sophomore in high school.

Chase Leonard, a student at EvCC has had to manage anxiety and depression since his sophomore year in high school. “I thought I had ADHD,” said Leonard, “I went to the doctors for it. They thought it wasn’t ADHD, but it was stress and depression holding me back.”

After seeing a counselor for around three months, Leonard is in a much happier place and continues to enjoy the challenges each day brings to him.

Although some days are worse than others, Leonard doesn’t want others to treat him any differently. “I don’t want to search for pity. I’m not looking for pity” Leonard said, “I’m trying to get through life like anyone else. I was dealt the hands I was given and I made light of the situation.”

As for EvCC, the counseling center was decentralized during fall quarter of 2017 and cut in half with only five counselors currently on staff. However, counseling services are still available, with counselors located throughout campus.

Kate Agbayani
Deanna Skinner, a counselor at EvCC for 19 years.

Deanna Skinner, a current counselor who has been at EvCC for 19 years, recognizes the importance of having counseling services available for students on campus. When the counseling center decentralized, Skinner was conflicted, stating, “I have mixed feelings about the decentralization. Some of the disadvantages can be a loss of collaboration and case consultation amongst the counselors, loss of administrative support, confusion amongst students about where to really see the counselor, and confusion about how to best make an appointment with a counselor.”

While many of the counselors prefer having a stable counseling center, the decentralization of the counseling center has brought some benefits. Now, students can easily access a counselor on campus if immediate attention is needed. The close vicinity of the counseling services also allows students to have a comfortable walking distance versus going all the way to Parks Student Union.

Current psychology instructor at EvCC, Brett Kuwada, who was a counselor at EvCC for eight years, understood why the counseling center inevitably decentralized. With constant changes in school administration and staff being cut in half at one point, the counseling center became the counseling services.

Kate Agbayani
Brett Kuwada, a professor of psychology at EvCC, was a counselor for eight years. His office in Gray Wolf Hall features a real, preserved human brain.

Despite the changes in counseling structure, Kuwada still appreciates and highly considers the importance of maintaining counseling services alive and readily available.

“Counseling services, in this campus and really any college campus, are a vital part of student services” explains Kuwada, “To dilute them and to sacrifice those services may be for another service potentially puts students in… academic risks… mental health risks, tons of different possibilities. And so I really advocate for having counseling services on campuses and also advocate for students to take advantage of it.”

Licensed marriage and family therapist, Susan Strom, who is a clinical art therapist at Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse states, “Unfortunately, society has created a culture where asking for help can be difficult.”

Understanding that the counseling services at school are there to provide assistance and not judgment is vital to those seeking help.

Locations of the counseling services include the third floor of Parks Student Union, Whitehorse Hall, Liberty Hall and Gray Wolf Hall. Students wanting to schedule an appointment can contact 425-388-9263 to get in touch with a counselor or in person on the third floor of Parks Student Union.