Southwestern College’s Personal Wellness Adapts to Continue to Provide High-Quality Mental Health Services

Phot of the Cesar Chavez Student Services Building on the Chula VIsta campus.

Southwestern College’s Personal Wellness Services is adapting its services and creating unique access for students facing new educational, mental and personal challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Southwestern College’s physical campuses remain closed, Personal Wellness Services has continued to provide high-quality behavioral health care and personal counseling to Southwestern College students. Personal Wellness Services, like all other student services, adapted to continue to meet students’ needs even though they’re not on campus. They have created remote counseling, virtual workshops via Zoom, online chats and more so that students can still access the department’s services.

“There are a lot of struggles our students can face that can impair their ability to concentrate and focus,” said Dr. Clarence “Butch” Amaral, a mental health counselor with Personal Wellness Services. “School isn’t the only thing our students have on their plate. They work, they’re in relationships, they have families, they’re facing food and housing insecurities. We’re here to help students and to help them be successful.”

Personal Wellness Services provides a range of free and confidential services to students who may be facing behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and more. They provide crisis intervention, consultations and brief individual personal counseling as well as lead weekly prevention and wellness workshops staffed by Southwestern College mental health counselors and community professionals. They also facilitate a series of grief and loss support groups.

“Our weekly prevention workshops help educate our students on different important topics that impact their studies, such as, what stress looks like, what depression looks like, and teaches them coping skills that they can use to manage their feelings,” said Margaret Daynes, another mental health counselor with Personal Wellness Services.

Personal Wellness Services assists students in connecting to resources in the community and with local health agencies if they require a higher level of care. Personal Wellness Services now has a case manager who acts as a hub of knowledge of the resources and services available in the community. The case manager can help a student get connected to health care, legal services, domestic violence support, sexual assault support and more.

“I would encourage them to come and see us if they need any kind of support,” Daynes said. “If you just need a safe place to talk or get support, come and talk to us. It’s safe, and it is confidential.”

In addition to working directly with students, Personal Wellness Services also facilitates workshops for faculty, staff, student services’ departments and learning communities on behavioral health issues, including trauma-informed care. They help employees identify warning signs of behavioral health problems in students so they can be referred to Personal Wellness Services for support.

Personal Wellness Services has a lot of services to offer under the most normal of circumstances. Now that Southwestern College students are facing new and unique challenges through distance learning, Personal Wellness has adapted their workshops and their support to meet the students’ needs.

“This pandemic is traumatic stress,” said Dr. Amaral. “There is so much uncertainty. We’ve lost people who we’ve loved, we hear about people dying. There are disruptions in people’s lives. That leaves a lot of people feeling anxious, stressed and uncertain. It’s a really trying time, and we’re here to provide support during this time and find ways for students to be successful.”

Students can register for workshops, ask to schedule appointments to meet with a mental health counselor, or learn more about Personal Wellness services by emailing or visit the Personal Wellness website.