Albany Technical College continues raising mental health awareness

ATC helps students maintain mental health
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 7:06 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 11:44 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany Technical College is expanding its mental health services for students this fall semester.

The Center of Excellence and Information Technology building is where students can come to the wellness director first before consulting in an in-person session. The virtual sessions are available for students 24 hours during the week and weekend.

”I take breaks. I got out and socialize with my classmates a lot. We are a very close tight net class, and I really love that. Sometimes, you just don’t have anybody to relate to. But here at Albany Tech. with these girls in this program, we are all we have. We are all relatable,” said Ke’Amber Richardson, a cosmetology student.

One service that has worked well is being able to call the agency at any time, with any emotional crisis they may be having.

“For students we either connect them with a Student Assistance Program (SAP) or if they rather sit face to face with someone, I make a call. We have an outside agency that we use, and I link them to services there as well,” said Lashea Dancer, director of Student Wellness at Albany Technical College.

Raven Sullivan, a cosmetology student, tells WALB that one thing that’s helped her is writing out her thoughts.

“One thing that has stuck with is doing things as soon as it pops in my head. I always do things right then and there, and if I can not do it, it’s mandatory that I write it down. And I need to write it down and keep it somewhere that I’m frequently looking at all the time so I don’t forget,” said Sullivan.

Richardson says that she can tell a difference in her performance for each semester now that she has access to resources.

Albany Technical College is expanding its mental health services for students this fall semester.

“I felt the love the compassion from my teacher. I didn’t feel like I was just another student, she made me feel like we are all family. I definitely appreciate that, and I really love that we have these resources here to encourage us and help us. That’s the difference between my first semester and my last semester,” Richardson said.

“Prior to the grant, we didn’t have any of these services. So I think just having these services for students is just working in general. We focus on academic help as well, so now we are using an agency called tutor me to offer our students academic counseling,” said Dancer.

A lot of the students WALB spoke with tell us that they like to know that someone is just listening to them.

“The experience is wonderful. It makes you feel like you have a second family here at Albany Technical College (ATC). It makes you feel like people hear you, people understand you and overall, it’s a great experience,” said Sullivan.

One piece of advice that Richardson often reflects on is being able to ask for help when needed.

“Don’t be scared to tap into those resources, don’t be scared to talk to someone, because one conversation can save a life,” said Richardson.

Some of the initiatives that Albany Technical College offers students are the “You Matter Campaign,” Mindful Coloring, and Yoga on the Yard. The program has been working well since it started two years ago.

“I think students that we’ve talked with and have been through the program, they are just excited to have somebody to talk to. They know that if they are stressed out, that they are not alone and that they do matter. And that was actually one of the first campaigns that we started, the ‘You Matter Campaign.’ Just letting them know that it’s okay not to be okay and that you know there is always someone here that they can talk to. That they are not going through what they are going through alone,” said Dancer

The directors hope to have the Wellness Center fully up and running by 2025.