Counseling Service Center helps struggling students

By Jose Castillon
Pulse Staff Reporter

sad man sitting alone

Depression and anxiety can affect every aspect of a student’s life. Fortunately, Palo Alto College can provide the help that students need.

As a college student, you may have to balance schoolwork, a job and a social life. For a majority of students, the ailments of anxiety and depression are an everyday occurrence.  Finding help on or outside of campus can be a struggle because most students aren’t aware they exist.

“Ever since I started college, I have anxiety more often than when I did in high school,” said Erica Gomez, a sophomore Criminal Justice major.  

In 2013, the National College Health Assessment examined data from 125,000 students from 150 universities for signs of depression and anxiety.

“About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression, and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year,” according to the report.

For PAC students, resources are available at the Counseling Services Center in the Student Center. Counselors and interns offer short-term or crisis intervention. Help is free of charge, and students who are currently enrolled may meet with the counselors for three sessions per topic. Group sessions and other events held at the college are limitless and are open to every student.

Rhonda O’Cana is the personal counselor for Palo Alto College, specializing in helping students with short-or long-term crisis.   

“There are still a lot of students who don’t realize that we are here or they don’t realize what we do,” said O’Cana. “My top goal is to build awareness and get the word out that there is personal counseling here available.”

Students can visit Counseling Services for a variety of topics, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression and mood swings.

Students suffering with anxiety may use other methods if they get overwhelmed with school and need techniques to cope. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends taking a time-out, taking deep breaths and counting to 10 slowly. These simple tricks won’t work long term, but they can provide immediate relief in the current situation.

The Counseling Services Center is located in the Student Center, Room 100. For more information, contact Rhonda O’Cana at or call (210) 486-3750 .

For help away from campus, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to everyone, is available 24 hours a day at 1 (800) 273-8255