NAMPA, Idaho — Northwest Nazarene University is bringing mental health resources to their students in a new way.
NNU changed the process in which they see students at their Wellness Center.
"Before I came, it was much more of a clinic model where there was like a waiting list, and you had like a Tuesday morning at 10 standing appointment," said Julie Barrass, Northwest Nazarene University Clinical Counselor.
When Barrass was first hired at NNU in 2019, the waiting list for students to see a counselor was long, so she changed how the Wellness Center works to make it more effective.
“The way I do counseling is a lot of solution-focused therapy, so how that works here that it is a walk-in model, and one of us is always available for a walk-in session, which is like a 20-minute appointment," she said.
Their new drop-in method gives NNU students the ability to see any of the four counselors at any given time in any given place.
“We just really wanted to make it available. The resident directors at the dorms know that we are available to pop over to a dorm if they need to talk to someone," said Barrass. "I am often over at the sports center with our athletes and our coaches working on things. The big shift is just making ourselves available for whatever may come up.”
As a result, Barrass said that more students, specifically student-athletes, have reached out for help than ever before.
“There was always this disconnect that they didn’t know it was also for them and because it was much more of a mental health clinic setting, it felt like there was a little more stigma to it and now that we are out on the campus and available to talk wherever I have even done courtside counseling,” she said.
A lot of what the counselors do now is reaching out to do wellness stuff beforehand, so they are proactive.
Now before every season, Barrass meets with each team to talk about how the trainers are there to help them with the physical part, and she's there to help them with the mental part.
“Just like you wouldn’t judge someone for talking to a trainer, we don’t want anyone to judge someone cause you see them talking to a counselor," Barrass said.