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Appointment-free consultations move to the Union

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The Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service is offering informal psychological consultation sessions every Thursday this semester with the aim of increasing the accessibility of its services to students.

The program, called Let’s Talk, provides access to free and confidential consultations in the Lower Level Meeting Room of the Ohio Union from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. In contrast to formal counseling, students can drop in without an appointment or assessment of concerns in advance and discuss their problems with counselors.

“We recognize that for some students, there might be stigma associated with mental-health treatment,” said Jeeseon Park-Saltzman, a psychologist from the CCS and coordinator of the program. “Let’s Talk is geared towards students who may have concerns about coming to our formal service sessions.”

Park-Saltzman said one of the informal, 15- to 20-minute consultation sessions could serve as a soft entry point to longer-term counseling sessions, which contain more thorough assessments of concerns and multiple meetings with counselors. Let’s Talk ensures that the procedure before seeing a counselor is minimized so that every student who needs guidance has access to professional suggestions, as well as information about other resources.

“We noticed that international students in general tend to underutilize our services,” Park-Saltzman said. “In fact, that is the case not just for the Ohio State, but for other universities as well.”

In addition, multilingual services, including Chinese, Korean, Hindi and Spanish, will be available during Let’s Talk time, according to the CCS website. Only minimal demographic information will be collected for service-tracking purposes.

For students who take English as their second language or those coming from places where psychological counseling is not what’s commonly adopted, using their mother languages could make things more comfortable, especially when the topics discussed are highly personal and emotional, Park-Saltzman added.

As an international student, Zihan Zhang, a second-year in chemical engineering, said she felt that providing services in languages other than English is beneficial.

“When I first came here and wasn’t fluent in English, it would be impossible for me to present my concerns clearly to a counselor,” Zhang said.

This is the first time Let’s Talk services will be offered during Fall Semester. Previously, the program was held in spring semesters within the Office of International Affairs.

“One of our improvements this year is that we are hoping to create a more welcoming environment for all OSU students instead of being like a program only for international students when it was housed in OIA,” Park-Saltzman said. “That’s why we moved to the Union.”

Park-Saltzman also said limited availability of the service would be a challenging part of the program because Let’s Talk is offered only two hours a week, which means students will have to make themselves available during that time.

Park-Saltzman added that the Counseling and Consultation Service might extend the walk-in hours if student traffic flow demand it.

Some students are optimistic about the program and its move.

“It sounds like a good idea for students,” said Skyler Johnson, a second-year in exploration. “You don’t have to make an appointment, so if an urgency comes up, you can talk to someone there.”

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