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How You Help Students Access Free Counseling in Times of Need
The Bridge offers 24/7 trained peer-counseling to the Stanford community.
Students experiencing stress, fear, uncertainty, self-doubt—these are stories that are all too relatable, but so often remain untold. With 30 trained student counselors offering support 24 hours a day, seven days per week, the Bridge peer-counseling center is working to bring these stories out of the shadows. They offer hope and solutions instead of judgment, as well as an opportunity for Stanford students to practice self-care.
Supported in part by Stanford Fund donors, the Bridge is a student-run, peer-counseling center staffed by undergraduate and graduate students. They provide anonymous and confidential counseling over the phone or in person at Rogers House, just across the street from Tresidder Memorial Union.
Each Bridge volunteer counselor is highly trained. They are required to pass two classes, during which they cover topics like depression, relationship issues, identity issues, and other common student concerns. After completing the courses, they face a notoriously difficult evaluation that includes mock counseling a current student staff member.
The process attracts dedicated students who want to help the Stanford community, like junior Psalm Pineo-Cavanaugh.
"It's a huge privilege to engage with classmates who share my passion, and to have intimate conversations with my peers," said Pineo-Cavanaugh. "Not only does being a volunteer counselor provide Stanford students with an opportunity to process their emotions, but it personally benefits me by reminding me of the power of human connection and vulnerability."
The Bridge team consists of active counselors like Pineo-Cavanaugh, who have a weekly three-hour shift during which they respond to calls and walk-in appointments. It also includes live-ins, who actually, as their title would suggest, live in Rogers House and take turns covering the midnight-to-9 a.m. shifts.
The counselors at Bridge have become particularly adept at helping students navigate "duck syndrome," a long-discussed campus issue.
"There is truth to the clichéd duck syndrome, that we struggle and question our place at this elite institution," said Pineo-Cavanaugh. "Hearing the private problems and frustrations of concerned students every week reminds me that my anxiety does not mean I am undeserving of being here. It is a natural consequence of immersing oneself among incredible people, and it is normal to struggle."
Pineo-Cavanaugh believes her overall role as a student counselor is to "guide students through their problems and help them identify their own possible solutions, acting as a sort of sounding board."
In the future, Bridge staffers hope to recruit new student counselors and be able to accommodate more student walk-ins. They also hope to improve their outreach to graduate students, who face many of the same stresses as undergrads but often do not realize that the Bridge is available to them.
The Bridge is one way Stanford is helping students on the path to empowerment and wellness. Mental health shouldn't have to be squeezed into working hours or between classes. Your support through The Stanford Fund helps keep this important resource available for students at all times.