Fontbonne University students have access to many different services, including mental health counseling and basic physical health care. What campus nurse Carla Hagan and counseling director Therese Jacques offer, though, is much more than that.
A deep, genuine care for students’ wellbeing leads them to “think outside the box” and take a holistic approach to serving everyone who walks through their doors.
“In our roles, we’re always kind of zooming out,” says Therese. “We’re looking at the student not just through our one lens but holistically, which really is part of the university’s mission.”
As counseling director, Therese provides ongoing support, crisis intervention, case management, and outreach services to the campus community. She deals with a wide variety of situations, including making initial diagnoses for mental health conditions and providing support for previous diagnoses. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health concerns she sees among students. Typically, students have 1–10 sessions with Therese, but if there is a need for more long-term support, she connects them to a trusted off-campus resource.
Sometimes, though, all a student needs is help adjusting to college life or a safe place to talk about what they’re experiencing.
“It doesn’t have to be a mental health issue to come into this office,” Therese says.
Carla oversees all health care needs on campus — everything from a minor rash to emergency situations as they arise. Right now, she’s also monitoring the coronavirus and local influenza virus in order to provide the university with recommendations for keeping students healthy.
Some of the most pervasive issues Carla and Therese see facing students are academic stress, trouble adjusting to college life and adulthood, unhealthy relationships, poor eating habits, and a lack of sleep. They work to help students grow in their personal development, foster healthier habits, and get connected to other on-campus resources like the Kinkel Center or campus ministry, as needed.
Therese and Carla both see themselves as advocates for their students, and they’re always working to identify and meet physical, mental, and emotional needs. When Carla sees a student with a stomachache, for example, and picks up on cues that it may be stress-related, she introduces them to Therese. When either of them finds a student who may benefit from accommodations, they offer to help coordinate with Regina Wade Johnson in Academic Support and Accommodations.
“I become a kind of ‘mom’ for a lot of students,” Carla says.
Access & Confidentiality
Students don’t have to worry about whether they are bothering busy staff members, or bringing up a concern that is either too large or too small. No matter what the issue is, Carla and Therese are eager to help. Their assistance is often especially valuable when it comes to navigating the complex world of health care, where they frequently provide referrals for health insurance questions, immunizations, or outside care providers.
Access to the services Carla and Therese provide is free for all Fontbonne students, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance. And even though there’s still stigma surrounding mental health care, Therese says counseling centers across the country are seeing an increase in the number of students who take advantage of counseling services.
“I don’t think there’s anybody on this planet that hasn’t experienced anxiety or depression at some point,” she says. “These are normal responses to issues that we face.”
Use of these services is always 100% confidential and is not included on a student’s record. The only person who will know they have taken advantage of mental health counseling or physical health care is the person who provided the service. If a student wants to share that information with other on-campus or off-campus sources, including parents or family members, they may sign a release.
Therese’s office is open 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Carla is available 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students who wish to make an appointment may call or email them directly using the contact information listed below, or stop by their offices during normal hours.
|Counseling & Wellness||Campus Nurse|