I recently had the opportunity to discuss some key ideas regarding mental health with Inés Mendoza, a coordinator at IEU Counseling. The services they offer have been available since 2016, and are definitely an option to be considered in the case that students are struggling, either academically or personally.
Q: What services do you offer? How can students access them?
A: The first point of contact is our email, by which students can reach out to us any time. We offer two kinds of services: guidance counselling, for which we can aid you with unlimited sessions, and clinical counselling, by which we work based on previous diagnosis and for which we have an agreement with Sinews, by which IE pays for up to 8 sessions per year. These sessions can be held through Zoom, on campus or their offices in Madrid.
Q: What would you recommend for students going through hard times, personally or in exams?
A: It all depends on the student’s particular situation, but for hard times or stress, always write us an email and even drop into our offices! Counseling is not mandatory every week, and we can always give you a push, words of trust for exams, breathing techniques… Overall, tools to enhance the resources that can make you feel better.
Q: What would you say are the main challenges and opportunities you have as IEU Counseling ?
I think that our main challenge, as it happens regularly when talking about mental health, is getting people in the door, that the students that need our help not only know us, but also can come to us (…). It’s hard for the stigma regarding mental health to be dissipated.
When talking about opportunities, I think one of the main ones is that counselling works deeply with IE itself to suggest activities and resources for each student in particular, so they can all live the best college experience and be as happy and confident as possible. And this being the case, the university has awareness that the person in need exists and can be in contact with them, to make sure they’re okay. Being an international university, many people have left their home and their sphere of trust, so we always like to help students adapt and make their lives easier.
Also, very personally I feel that the pandemic situation has created a lot of awareness regarding mental health, about the problems we used to carry in silence.
Q: What’s your approach to help students going through difficult situations that are affecting their performance?
A: As a psychologist myself, I believe that many of the tools we use aren’t taught in school, but rather from our own patients. For me, it’s about spending time with that person and understanding them, and thinking of what things can work specifically for them. All of the counselors have worked with teenagers, and in the end we’re our own tool of work: we have both the way the student is, and our own way of communicating different resources, with the final purpose of helping them.
If you are struggling with stress or any other personal situation that is affecting you, never feel you have to fight alone. Don’t be afraid to contact IE Counseling for any other inquiries you may have.