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ESF Student Blog - The Importance of Mental Health at ESF

Ways to Take Care of Yourself

By Owen Volk

Venturing out on your own for the first time with a new sense of independence can be intimidating, and it can be hard to distinguish situations in which you might need to talk to a professional about stressors and problems going on in your life. Fortunately, ESF has a staff of not only professors, but mental health professionals who care about your well-being and provide a variety of services to help make sure you’re able to do and be your best throughout your college journey.

I have first-hand experience that can back up these claims. My third semester at ESF wasn’t an ideal semester for a multitude of reasons. I had gotten Covid, lost someone I considered a mentor, and began to fall behind. A few of my professors noticed I was struggling and reached out to offer solutions to help me get back on track, taking genuine concern and working to make sure that a bad semester would turn out successful. For me, this solidified the genuine sense of community and family that ESF provides students.

To get a better understanding of the mental health services offered, I reached out to ESF’s new Director of ESF’s Counseling Center, Erica Allen. Though new the College, Erica has been in the mental health field for more than 12 years, most recently at Onondaga Community College. Erica’s excited about her new position and meeting with students not only in the office but on campus. You can expect to see Erica and her team in different places on campus throughout the semester, so feel free to stop by and say “Hi!”

Erica discussed some of the services offered by the Counseling Center, including individual counseling and group counseling. Located in 110A Bray Hall, the Counseling Center staff are licensed in New York state to provide services. They provide crisis counseling between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Students can stop by at those times to discuss issues that may need more serious and immediate attention. If necessary, counselors can write referrals to outside agencies (specifically Upstate Psychiatry) with options for tele-psychiatry support. While waiting for the Upstate appointment, ESF’s counselors can meet with students and work with them until they can be seen at Upstate Psychiatry. If you need help outside of those hours, ESF has a 24-hour hotline that gets answered seven days a week. That numbers is 315-470-4716.

The Counseling Center is always looking for better ways to serve students, whether it’s finding new events for outreach or adding a new service. Students are encouraged to share their ideas to ensure their mental health needs are being met. You can contact Erica at

I want to leave you with something Erica shared with me that made quite an impression: “Having feelings is normal, talking out your feelings is normal. Don’t sit and suffer in silence when you have people around you who want to help."