There are many services that Macalester College supplies students, such as free condoms, cookie-making in the CRSL basement or Kevin in the library for petting. These are all great resources, but these services can be found off-campus. A resource that Macalester offers that isn’t as accessible off-campus is Macalester counseling services.
Ted Rueff, Macalester’s associate director of the Health and Wellness Center, is also the director of counseling services and a practicing psychologist. “I supervise our staff of four licensed mental health counselors plus a psychiatrist we contract with. I also oversee faculty, staff and student trainings in the community as well as the mental health education efforts that complement the great work done by Health Promotions,” Rueff said.
Recently, there has been a shift towards a more holistic approach to mental health and general wellness, encompassing the entire community. “One of the things I’m truly excited about is working more upstream to create positive culture change in the area of wellness. It’s been fun collaborating with the HWC staff and our many community partners in this way. A good example is the Embody the Change Program administered out of the Civic Engagement Center,” Rueff said.
Rueff got into psychology and counseling because “I’d always been curious about what makes people tick. It’s such a privilege to bear witness to students’ stories and to hopefully be a supportive presence for them. I can’t think of more rewarding work.” Rueff also described the work done with students: “The primary service we provide is short-term individual counseling. It’s the backbone of our work. It’s mostly done by appointment but we also offer ten drop-in times each week. We coordinate support groups and currently offer a mindfulness meditation group as well as a sexual assault support group and some limited psychiatric and medication management. And finally, we serve as consultants to the entire Macalester community including faculty, staff, students and their parents.”
Rueff discussed why and how students utilize counseling: “Students use our services in many ways. Sometimes it’s about finding a source of support, gaining a new insight and learning new skills. Sometimes it’s about adjusting to a new reality, and sometimes it’s about coping with a mental health disorder.”
However, for students, “There’s no eligibility criteria other than a desire to participate actively in one’s own self-care and growth. Admittedly, with our short term counseling model some will be best served by more specialized or longer-term treatment, but even then we serve as an important gateway to those kinds of services in the community. The main thing is to ask for help when you need it.”
There are no eligibility criteria for using counseling services at Macalester. Approximately one in five people will experience some sort of mental health problem in any given year. It is often difficult for people to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental illness or accumulating stress making it hard to know when you need to talk to someone. Regardless of the reason, be it having difficulty adjusting to a change in your life or dealing with a chronic mental health problem, each student can use up to ten free counseling sessions. The staff of dedicated counselors will work to give you the help and support you need. All you need to do is ask.
Rueff invites anyone who may need or want a session to: “Stop in, or call us at 651-696-6275.”