By Sarah Newberry / Staff Writer

The new coping group at Hutchinson Community College is undoubtedly something many students should consider.

Led by the social worker on campus, Melody Wagler, it is something new and perhaps helpful. Wagler started this group because she said she enjoys providing mental support in a group format and wants to make it more accessible.

It is not exactly a deep processing or counseling group. The group’s purpose is for psychoeducation, or mental health education, on topics such as anxiety, self-care, depression, grieving, stress, and others as well. Wagler said she is hoping for a turnout of at least four or more, but she is happy even if two people show up. If two people show up, she is glad to have reached out to those few people and provided support and education.

Wagler said she is hoping that the group format can provide a place to learn and share coping information that has to do with mental health topics. There are many goals of the group that Wagler has created. One of her overall goals is for the group to fit the needs of those in attendance. She also hopes to provide a safe place for students within the group. Wagler would also like to normalize stressors and mental health issues as well.

“I imagine the group to be a place where members can note that they are not alone and that their struggle is not unusual, and struggling is especially common in this time of COVID,” Wagler said.

Everyone struggles at one point, and it is entirely normal.

“Just because it’s not unusual does not mean it’s not important and deserving of care,” Wagler said.

The pandemic has affected everyone, especially many people’s mental health. People are isolated and cut off from the world in certain aspects, which does not help mental health. The pandemic can also enlarge common fears or irrational ones and make them prevalent or seem rational. One way to cope with that is keeping in close contact with family and friends, virtually or in-person if possible. Another coping skill that Wagler uses is Radical Acceptance, which is accepting your emotions and acknowledging them. Also, it would help if you felt your feelings in that present moment.

Wagler became a social worker to help people. She also did not like seeing people falling through the gaps of support and wanted to provide for those who needed it. She said she enjoys a group support format and reaching out to people.

Wagler said that mental health impacts each part of our lives and is essential. Mental health is often stigmatized, and Wagler wants to change that. She hopes to spread awareness on the subject and reach out to people using the group she started.

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