“I think the hypothesis, as to why […] is that life was just really crappy all around and so it’s the idea of ‘what’s the point of going to therapy when nothing’s going to change in the world?'”
Sarah Dionne was born and raised in North Andover, MA. She was hired in August 2020 as the director of the Merrimack College Counseling Center and Office of Wellness Education. Dionne has worked in mental health for about 10 years and in higher ed for about seven. She worked at the University of Massachusetts Lowell prior to arriving at Merrimack.
Dionne’s interview offers the perspective of a mother with a newborn child in a pandemic. In the interview, she describes her experiences during the pandemic and details how the Merrimack College Counseling Center adjusted their methods for supporting students.
Sarah Dionne: So you know we definitely tried our best, the problem was that there was just such a demand for mental health service out in the community, and so, sometimes it was difficult to find providers. That was a really big stress, when there’s somebody who wants services, deserve services and is doing the work to try to get that service but just because of the annoyingness of the pandemic, you were not able to provide that service. It’s a challenge to get them connected to that service, it was definitely a struggle.
Emma Gorski: Right, so with all this being said, did you find more students utilize the counselling center than prior to the pandemic?
SD: So what’s interesting is no, we actually had really low numbers last year. And, and that was pretty common across the board at a lot of different institutions and I think the hypothesis, as to why was like just we were kind of living in this collective trauma, and so the idea of getting therapy just seems too far removed we’re still just- we’re in survival mode just trying to get five. Another theory is that life was just really crappy all around and so it’s the idea of “what’s the point of going to therapy when nothing’s going to change in the world?” I think, prevented people from going, and so our numbers were really low. They have since significantly rebounded and so now we’re seeing the impacts and so a lot of what we’re seeing now, those presented concerns are very much tied to the pandemic and COVID. In the moment just not feeling like they could do anything about the pain in the butt like isolation and the sadness and the fear that they were dealing with.
The interview was conducted in North Andover MA, on November 22, 2021 by Emma Gorski.
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.