Student services offers virtual calming room as first step to seeking mental, emotional counseling service

Alyssa Carino and Victoria Camarda

The student services department on the Plainfield South website features a link to a calming room, available to all students. Counselors Laura Swenson and Jamie Heikes lead the site that was originally created by Jennifer Gawenda, a previous counselor.

With limited space and not enough assistance, Swenson and Heikes said they have not been able to extend the calming rooms to in person quite yet. However, the online room creates an easily accessible site for all students and staff.

The counselors hope there is a little bit for everybody and that students use it as a first step to decide where they are mentally or emotionally before they voice what they need.
“I think that it could be a nice middle because some students might feel like they’re in crisis but really they just need a few minutes to decompress,” Heikes said.

The site includes links for calming music, meditation, puzzles, games, and a plethora of other activities to choose from. It is meant to be there when counselors do not have the time to teach skills that have to do with social and emotional being. With a wide range of activities to choose from, Swenson hopes “students can start learning what works for them.”

When students feel as though the virtual calming room is not enough, counselors advertise that they are always welcome to student services or the counselor offices. With only seven counselors, they cannot always ensure that someone will be available at the drop of a dime, however.

“If somebody is not available, they have things that they can use to try to help cope in the meantime. Student Services is that place that we hope students will come to whenever they need,” Swenson said.

Although student services are available at all times, Heikes and Swenson often “wonder how many students actually go to [the calming room] or know about it.” They hope this resource will aid students in calming themselves down and processing emotions, and they hope to hear more positive feedback from students.

While some already know of the calming room, Heikes wants all who don’t to “just check it out if they haven’t yet done so,” because it has something for everyone.