If anyone on a university campus understands the importance of student mental health, it's Christy Perez.
"I like a positive psychology realm," said Perez, a mental health counselor with the University Counseling Service at PSU. "I'm the touchy-feely one in the office, the one who can handle the student crying in the waiting room. I enjoy working with students to find their strengths."
With mental health a key part of student safety and success, it's an issue that will soon be even more visual on the PSU campus. This summer, University Counseling is moving into the new Student Health Center, which opens to students this fall. The center will also house Student Health Services, which focuses on the physical health of students.
Perez, the president-elect of the Kansas Counseling Association (a branch of the national association), has served as president of the Southeast Kansas Counseling Association as well as the Kansas College Counseling Association. In addition to counseling services, she does mental health training with student leaders and teaches summer workshops and general psychology classes.
With thousands of students asking for help each year in overcoming issues such as home sickness, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictions - and many faculty members feeling the burden of making the health of students their responsibility - the work she and the University Counseling staff do is critical to PSU.
"Our goal here is for students to be able to adjust to a college environment and be able to graduate," Perez said. "Students have a lot more on their plate than they used to."