The LSU Student Health Center began a new mental health initiative this semester called “Let’s Talk” that offers 15-minute walk-in counseling sessions with licensed therapists.
Let’s Talk sessions are offered on Mondays from 2-4 p.m. in the African American Cultural Center and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m. in the Design Building.
The program is designed to provide students access to a mental health professional who can talk them through specific problems, give their perspective or answer questions. Students are able to see what counseling is like through an informal consultation.
Dr. John Otzenberger, director of mental health at the LSU Student Health Center, said Let’s Talk is a safe space for students to talk to mental health professionals if they have ever wondered what that is like.
“It’s low-key and no stress," Otzenberger said. "If you have any concerns about a friend, you can come in to Let’s Talk because this is all confidential. You’re not even writing your name down."
Students who go to a Let’s Talk session fill out a demographic form that is a professional disclosure statement, but it does not ask for the student’s name. Students then sit down and tell the professionals what they need and are pointed in the direction of services to help them.
Let’s Talk is different than formal therapy because it is a drop-in, informal consultation. The Student Health Center also offers formal therapy, which entails short-term, ongoing counseling that usually consists of 45-50 minute appointments.
The program was inspired by a similar program at Cornell University. Otzenberger said he felt the Cornell program was a good model for Let’s Talk on the University's campus. He said the main goal of the program is to reduce the stigma around getting help for mental health.
Otzenberger said the feedback so far with the service has been very positive. He said it is very important for the Student Health Center to have a visible presence on campus so students can get the help they need.
“It’s imperative that students take care of their mental health, especially if they’re just arriving at LSU and they’re 18 or 19,” Otzenberger said.
Otzenberger said one of the main issues the Student Health Center sees is students not adequately managing their sleep schedule. Alcohol consumption and peer pressure are also two issues that students need to better manage to better their mental health, Oztenberger said. He recommends students eat right, exercise and get lots of sunshine, all of which can positively contribute to their mental health.
Click here for more information on LSU mental health services and the Let's Talk program.