Season 6 - Episode 641
The Baylor Counseling Center offers a wide array of services and resources to meet the mental health needs of Baylor students. Kallie Kobold is a psychologist and coordinator of outreach in the Counseling Center. In this Baylor Connections, she shares insights from serving students, examines student approaches to mental health and explains how Baylor outreach encourages students to consider their own needs and breaks down stigmas surrounding mental health challenges.
Derek Smith:Hello and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week, we go in-depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more, discussing important topics in higher education, research and student life. I'm Derek Smith. And today, we are talking mental health with Kallie Kobold. Kallie Kobold serves as psychologist and coordinator of outreach in the Baylor Counseling Center. Baylor counseling services offer a variety of mental health services to students with a mission to foster wholeness for every student through caring relationships, cultural humility, and integrated mental health services. The goal of the Department of Counseling Services' outreach program is to provide mental health related programming focused on the developmental and educational needs of students. The outreach program serves the campus community by providing educational programming on mental health issues for the purpose of prevention and stigma reduction. A lot of important work that Kallie Kobold and her team are doing throughout the Counseling Center. And Kallie, thanks so much for taking the time to join us today. Looking forward to our conversation.
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, thank you for having me today.
Derek Smith:As we dive in, why don't we start by asking you to paint a picture, if you would, a picture of the Counseling Center and mental health services? What does that look like? And what are some of the ways maybe people outside should know how you and your colleagues serve student needs?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, definitely. In painting a picture, overall, I think that the Counseling Center is really dedicated to just being a space where students... What we really value as students come in to be heard, seen, validated. We want them to feel that the things that are going on for them are important and that they can receive the help they need. And so, we offer just a variety of resources. And we really want people to feel like we're providing resources that fit their unique student needs, and that can include a variety of things. We have individual therapy, so kind of one-on-one. We have several groups that we run on several different things, so social anxiety, depression, relationships, that students feel really seen and heard in that. Crisis services so students, 24/7, can access services if they need help or support in the moment. And then, we have also nutrition services that often people are not aware of that we have, which is amazing, so helping those who are struggling around that. And then, we have some unique kind of services that students can access all the time. And so, we have a Neat, it's called Togetherall. It's an anonymous peer-to-peer platform where students can anytime of the day, log on, connect and get support from other students, not even only at Baylor, but across the nation. And so we really like that, but our hope in the Counseling Center is that students can just really have ease in accessing our services. And so we're constantly trying to find new ways to provide that.
Derek Smith:Well, and you mentioned online platforms. Obviously there's the in-person, but recognizing the busyness of people's schedules, how much of those external options, I say external, I mean, I guess virtual options grown in recent years?
Kallie Kobold:Oh, I mean, I think the pandemic just really changed the game with that. And so I think everyone was like, "Okay, I guess we have to adapt and shift to that." But I think it's actually been really neat, being able to just provide for students, we also have virtual options, it fits better with their schedule. Or we also have another platform that students can have ongoing therapy across the time that they're at the university called Academic Live Care. And that can be, right, they can be seen after hours on weekends. And so sometimes that really helps because we're in eight to five, and so sometimes that doesn't always work for everyone. And so I think that's just been helpful to really reach students who maybe weren't able to access the services that they wanted, or I think sometimes people feel more comfortable with that virtual option. And so I think the pandemic was hard, but that was one of the things that came out of there is just really finding unique ways to reach all students.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Kallie Kobold and Kallie, as we talk about mental health needs at Baylor and other college campuses, we hear stories in the news and it can be statistics or we know that this generation seems to be more open in talking about mental health needs. How would you just describe the need that you see being there on the front lines to others who wonder what's the temperature when we look at mental health needs on a college campus.
Kallie Kobold:I mean the statistics say this as you noted, but it's just increasing. I mean, every year the demand is just going up and up and up. And in some ways I think with this generation, there's more openness about sharing, about mental health receipt, wanting to get care. And so I think that has led to it, but also we're seeing that no, the stress is increasing. And so I think we're just seeing that more than half of students really say that mental health is their top stressor. And then think about that school's already stressful to begin with, and so that's just really impacting people's ability to really feel like they're kind of thriving at school. And so I think we continue to see just rising increases in just anxiety, depression. I think a huge one has been loneliness and just not feeling a sense of belonging. And so that just really impacts someone's experience, especially at college. I think we often think college is just this awesome fun time. You feel so connected, you're making friends, but what we're finding is just across the board, people are experiencing this at great amounts. And so, of course, suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death amongst college students. And so that's still something we're wanting to really focus on and make sure we're addressing. But yeah, we're keeping to see the demand, and so we're having to find unique ways to really serve everyone and make sure people don't feel isolated or alone, and that they do have a space that they feel like they can at least come to and feel safe and trusted.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Kallie Kobold, and who do you work with? Not necessarily names and individuals, but what do you enjoy about the group of people that you work with and what you just described, get to serve with him together?
Kallie Kobold:I think my favorite thing about working with my colleagues, we're all just so passionate about what we do. It really comes down to we love our job. It's hard work, but it can be hard to hear all that, how people are really struggling. But I think that I appreciate just the intentionality my colleagues have for one another and for not only the care for students, but for each other. And you can definitely feel that even in a busy day. I think my favorite thing about working here is just being able to stop by each other's office in between sessions and just talk and connect and have some fun at times. But I think ultimately, I mean, just the passion people have and the dedication of wanting to do this work, it provides me a rich part of my day.
Derek Smith:Well Kallie, an important part of your distinct role there is serving as coordinator of outreach, and we're going to dive into that here. What's kind of the 1 0 1 on what outreach looks like at the Baylor Counseling Center?
Kallie Kobold:So across the nation Counseling Centers, we are just feeling that demand, and we would love to be able to see every single student. I think that's all of our desire, but unfortunately, can't do that. So I think Counseling Center is just struggling to figure out how to have all students be felt, seen and heard and receive the care they need. And so that's where outreach is just so important. And so outreach, I think a lot of times, of course, it's about we want people to know about our services, where to find us. I think some people don't even know there's a Counseling Center, so that's of course the goal. We want to highlight that. But I think there's been a shift and what we're really kind of focusing here at the Counseling Center at Baylor is really on the prevention work. We want the entire university to be involved around mental health. It's everybody. Everybody is a part of this. And so really focusing on how do we have the entire university students, staff, faculty be gatekeepers. We can't be with every single student, unfortunately. And so having everyone on campus be able to be those eyes and ears and to know how respond. A lot of times people just need to be listened to, just to sit with for a moment and acknowledge what's going on. And so being able to teach people how to do that, but also know when they need to refer to us. And so that's been our focus here of what outreach is, and I think it's just critical where we're at with the needs of mental health right now.
Derek Smith:This is Baylor Connections. We are visiting with Kallie Kobold, psychologist and coordinator of Outreach in the Baylor Counseling Center. And Kallie, I want to dive in a little bit to working more with students and faculty and ways that you help educate and build up people to see these things. But before , I want to ask you a couple other things that might lead into that a little bit here. Where might we find you and your colleagues on campus engaging with students or faculty?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah. No, that's a great question. Oftentimes, we do get bogged down in the center, and so that's actually where our primary focus with outreach is. We just want to get out on campus. And so every semester, we have several events that we're just out so people can just see us. I think a lot of times we're kind of almost a mystery like "Who is there?" And so getting that face-to-face with us and just learning more about our services and having fun. We're in classrooms, meeting with departments, providing trainings, being advisors to student organizations. And so I think that's where we're at. We're kind of all over the place, but I think a lot of the times providing these trainings to faculty and staff, and so that can be seen in and out several different places on campus, but our hope is just to have more visibility.
Derek Smith:What are Active Minds? What is that and what does that do?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, so Active Minds, and I'm actually the advisor for them. It's a national organization, but Baylor has a chapter. It's a group of students who are just really passionate about mental health, and so really spreading education and awareness of mental health issues. So just learning about what does mental health look like? How does that affect college students? But also their focus is, how do I reduce the stigma? How do I get people to be able to talk about it more openly and to share with other people? And so I think that's a big part of it, as well as just I think a space where students don't have to feel alone. Again, that loneliness and sense of belonging is something students are really facing right now. And so having a space where they can do that together. And so it's a neat group and I encourage people to join it.
Derek Smith:You mentioned that sense of belonging. Obviously we've got a great campus community, 15,000 undergraduates, 5,000 graduate students, and yet that sense of loneliness can be very real for it. I mean, obviously you provide services. I know Baylor tries to find ways to plug people in to finding their community within the broader Baylor community, but what stands out to you about that need? It's a broad question, but I think people can recognize you can be in a room full of people and feel alone.
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, no, absolutely. As I think about it, is again, the sense of really being vulnerable with people. I think with social media, which I think is such a helpful thing, I've seen of just being able to talk more about what's going on for people, mental health, how people are doing therapy, what that looks like. But I also think that sometimes what comes with that is really being able to share what's truly going on with someone. And I think a lot of times what I hear is, "I'm the only one experiencing this," right? I hear that. It's like there's no one else who's experiencing that. And so I think that what comes with that is when you can lean into that vulnerability and you find out and have an experience of, "Oh, well, I experienced that too," and that really decreases that loneliness. And so I think sometimes with social media, it can create this sense of, "Oh no, we're all belonging. We all get one another. We're all really open." And so I think that there's that next step of really having to connect and be vulnerable and talk about it. But then when people have that connection, it goes much deeper of like, we connect on this level. We may not be going through the exact same thing, but we can really understand one another and not feel so isolated and alone.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Kallie Kobold here on Baylor Connections. And Kallie, let's shift gears a little bit to those interactions with students and faculty, as you said, kind of being eyes and ears and helping them understand signs or things that they can do, things that they can notice to be helpful. Let's dive into that a little bit more. How do you work with students and faculty to provide them with the information they need to be helpful, to serve others in these ways?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, absolutely. I think the big thing, and we've really pushed in the last year on this, of really having them do specific types of training so that they can feel equipped when they're out on campus to know, "Okay, what's the signs I'm picking up on how do I engage a student or a peer? And then what do I do, how do I refer them to where they need to be and get those resources?" And so a part of that is we launched a Mental Health Ally initiative actually about a year ago. And this was really just out of a need to have just more a supportive and inclusive campus for everyone and have people feel equipped. Because that's the thing, everyone's like, "I want to do this. I want to, but I don't know where to start. I don't know what to do." And so in the last year, we've done really focused on two of our trainings. One is on our QPR training. And so it's nationally a training program, but it's a question, persuade and refer, and it's a program that really focuses on suicide prevention. So how can you be listening for signs that someone might be going through that? And then once you hear those signs, how do you engage someone to talk about that? And then how do you get them to the services they need? And so really being able for people to hear that, but also we put them through role plays of what that looks like, practicing it because oftentimes just asking the question can be really hard, of are you thinking about killing yourself? Right? That is hard to say. And so learning how to, that is the key in suicide prevention is being able to ask that hard question. And so we focus on that as well as our mental health First Aid. It's a much more longer training, but we've just constantly had faculty staff in and students just say, "This was amazing. I'm glad I put the time into this," of learning how to, again, not just around suicide, but when someone's experiencing panic or has gone through trauma, depression, and how do you respond in those moments? How do you take care of them? And again, that necessary piece of how do I get them to the resources? And so our focus has been on training the last year, and through that we've wanted people to just become visible allies. And so, everyone likes swag. So each part of an opportunity, there's multiple ways you can become an ally, but we want that visibility. And my hope when I created this initiative is I wanted people to walk around campus and if they saw the Mental Health Ally sticker or the Mental Health Ally t-shirt or the pin is that, "Oh, this person I could go up to and I could talk to them and I could also know that they know where to refer me if I'm struggling." So I want that around that people know like, okay, this is a campus that we can feel taken care of and not alone. So that's where we've kind of focused in the last year, and it's been amazing, the need is there. We're constantly getting, "Hey, can you do more trainings?" Which has been great, but I think that's been really key in people feeling equipped and they're really wanting that and needing that.
Derek Smith:How can faculty or staff or students engage in the training? What do those opportunities look like and how do people connect with that?
Kallie Kobold:So we offer several throughout the semester, and so the best way to follow when we're offering those is by just following our social media. So we're constantly offering QPR trainings several times throughout the semester, and then the Mental Health First Aid as well, several times throughout the semester. And so we just really encourage people to follow us on social media, register for that, and watch out for those trainings, and to be able to take that.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Kallie Kobold and Kallie as we had in the final few minutes of the show. I want to ask you, you see a lot of the challenges that our students face, but I'm curious, what do you find most encouraging as you work with this generation of students here at Baylor? What do you enjoy and appreciate about that?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, I think we named it before, but I just really appreciate the openness they have, just the openness and just to be able to name it. I think I've just even seen as I've been in this work of this is what I'm going through, and I think there's also just being able to advocate for their mental health, and I appreciate that, of "I want to do something about this," or "I just even want to be an ally. I want to be able to support others." And I think that's really neat of being able to see just a hunger and drive for that. And so I've appreciated that. And the creativity, I think just the ways of how to get these messaging out to talk about it. I think that's really led to a lot of reduction in stigma around mental health. I love it, and I love the creative ways that students are doing that.
Derek Smith:Couple of nuts and bolts questions for you as well. Students, if they want to make that initial connection with the Counseling Center, what's the best way for them to do that?
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, it's super simple. We actually, which is really nice, kind of have even made it easier. So the initial start is you can book what is called an initial appointment, and that can be online, through the health portal, so you don't even have to call or you can call. And so it's really just a 30 minute conversation and you'll meet with one of our therapists. They'll ask you what's bringing you in, we'll talk about the resources that we have, and then collectively or collaboratively, we'll kind of decide together what feels like the best option. And so it's kind of that kind of entry point in and to really fit that student's unique needs and we'll find that option for you.
Derek Smith:That's great. And do you ever run into parents or families having questions and is there a way that they can reach out to you as well?
Kallie Kobold:Absolutely. All the time. And so yeah, one of the things I think can be helpful is visiting just our website just to see what we have and what we're offering. I think a lot of times people don't know all the things we offer, and so that can be really helpful for parents. But I always let parents and families know they can always just give us a call and they can directly talk to our associate director of clinical services for any questions they have or will have. What they can do, how they can support their student. And so I let them know, please feel free to give us a call and we'll be able to get you some information.
Derek Smith:That's wonderful. Well, Kallie, I really appreciate you taking the time to share today. Thanks for the work that you and your colleagues do and for taking the time to share that with us today. Appreciate it.
Kallie Kobold:Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Derek Smith:Great to have you with us today. Kallie Kobold, psychologist and coordinator of Outreach in the Baylor Counseling Center, our guest today on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith. A reminder you can hear this in other programs online at baylor.edu/connections. You can subscribe to the program on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.