We are a team of highly skilled professionals dedicated to serving our campus community and promoting student mental health and wellbeing. Our work is built on the values of compassion, integrity and respect. We are motivated by being a trusted resource on campus and helping all students develop a sense of belonging regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or ability. To accomplish these goals, we provide professional and evidence-based counseling services supportive of our students in navigating personal and academic challenges, fostering resilience to help our students persevere and ultimately achieve their goals.
“Providing Services with Compassion, Integrity and Professionalism. Because YOU matter.”
Programs and Events
Join us every Wednesday at 11:00 am in the Library (bldg.#3) Room 016, for 45 minute workshops focused on mental health and wellness!
Each month will be centered on a different theme, and will provide education, support and resources in a welcoming group setting.
Take a break on Thursdays!
Experience the calming and centering practices of meditation and mindfulness. Two 30 minute sessions will be held. Various meditative and mindfulness practices will be explored.
- 11:00am – 11:30am
- 11:30am – 12:00pm
Room 202, 2nd floor of the Larson Student Center
A program designed to help students who are academically at risk to learn the skills needed for academic success. In the Step-by-Step seminar you will:
- Explore what it takes to be successful in college
- Master the skills of prioritizing, time-management and goal setting
- Connect with Counseling & Student Development Services’ support network
- Reconnect with the motivational reason for coming to OCC – develop a life purpose
- Sign into your Ocean Connect account
- On the right side of the welcome page
- Under Events and Orientations, click on the Register for an Event link
- In the Available Events box, select the Step-by-Step event link. Register by clicking on one of the available dates and times.
Most of self-care techniques require nothing more than some consistency and slight effort. You can simply look at your daily habits, identify what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly with yourself in mind.
8 Dimensions of Wellness
A comprehensive look at self-care considers the following areas of our lives:
Take a moment to think about each dimension above, and which area(s) might need your attention. This will be different for everyone, depending on your individual values and needs. Here are some examples:
|A daily mindfulness practice||Taking your lunch break out of the office|
|Journaling||Saying “no” to plans or obligations that aren’t helpful to you|
|Gratitude lists||Tidying up your living or workspace|
|Spending time in nature each week||Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule|
|Catching up with friends or family||Eating more nutrient-dense foods|
|Physical exercise||Drinking more water|
|Trying something new||Reading|
|Creating (and sticking to) a budget|
For additional tips and assistance with developing an individual self-care plan, contact OCC Counseling Services.
Crisis Intervention and Emergency Services
In the event of an emergency, please contact 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Additional psychiatric emergency resources are available on campus:
- Monday – Thursday 9am – 7pm
- Friday 9am – 5pm.
Call: (732) 255-0386 or ext. 2911 on campus
Office Location: Library 010 – (Bldg #3)
Psychiatric Emergency Answering Service: (after hours, weekends, holidays, and school breaks) (732) 286-2441
Security: (732) 255-0451, call ext. 2200 on campus, or use the red phones located in campus buildings
Toms River Police Department: (732) 349-0150
Ocean County Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services: (732) 886-4474
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
Counseling Services at Ocean County College
- Personal Counseling: Professional and confidential mental health counseling, at no cost to all OCC and Kean-Ocean students. Counseling is provided under a short term, solution-focused theoretical framework and referrals are provided for continued care as needed.
- Crisis Intervention: Trained and professionally licensed counselors are available to respond to psychiatric emergencies on campus. Counselors will intervene at any on-campus location if the student cannot be transported to our office safely. The primary goal of crisis intervention is to de-escalate the crisis, support the student in distress, initiate necessary crisis response services and maintain the safety of all involved.
- Academic At-Risk Intervention: A program designed to help students who are academically at risk learn the skills needed for academic success.
- BASICS – An evidence-based alcohol screening and intervention program for college students. BASICS consists of two sessions with a counselor, and you will receive personalized feedback and tips on how to reduce your risk of encountering drinking-related consequences. Contact Counseling Services to schedule your first appointment of the BASICS program.
- Prevention: Promoting overall health and wellness of all students and members of our community. Prevention programs at OCC are designed to raise awareness, fight stigma, educate, and encourage healthy choices. Primary topics include: suicide, substance abuse, domestic and sexual violence, mental health awareness.
- Consultation: Counselors are available to provide information and guidance for faculty and staff in responding to behavioral or mental health difficulties in the classroom, or in other direct interaction with students.
- Workshops, Education and Training: Counselors provide expertise in the areas of mental health and wellness to assist the campus community in supporting student success.
- Displaced Homemakers: DHP of Ocean County is a NJ State grant program, designed to provide services to individuals who have lost their primary source of income due to separation, divorce, disability or death of the primary family provider or wage earner. The emphasis of the DHP is to move to economic self-sufficiency. For more information contact Eileen Burdge at 732-255-0400, ext. 2297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talking to a counselor for the first time can be overwhelming and we understand that. We are here to help you feel more comfortable in the process. Your first appointment will likely consist of a review of paperwork, telling your counselor the reason you are seeking help, and starting to work on a plan together that will help you towards a solution. Your counselor will also ask you several questions about any high risk concerns as part of a routine assessment. No matter what the concern that brings you to our office, you can be sure you will receive professional care in a private, nonjudgmental setting.
Online resource for college mental health – ULifeline
Search Ocean County College, and find reliable information about mental health concerns, available resources, and a confidential, online self-evaluator tool which provides personalized feedback based on your responses.
Information and Resources
Mental Health Services
|Ocean Mental Health Services|
(Community Resource for Emergency Support & Treatment)www.oceanmhs.org
|Preferred Behavioral Health Group|
Sexual Assault/Violence Services
|St. Francis Counseling Service|
609-494-155424/7 Hotline: 609-494-1090
|Dream Free (Human Trafficking Services)|
|Ocean County Prosecutor’s OfficeVictim-Witness Counselor|
(732)929-2027 vext. 3244
Substance Abuse Services
|Ocean Mental Health Services|
|Preferred Behavioral Health Group|
|Seashore Family Services of New Jersey|
|Ocean County Health Department|
|Alcoholics AnonymousNorthern New Jersey Intergroup|
Meeting Finder https://www.nnjaa.org/
|Narcotics AnonymousNA in NJ Meeting Finder|
|Gamblers AnonymousCouncil on Compulsive Gambling NJ https://800gambler.org/find-a-help-meeting/||SMART Recovery|
|National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)|
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
|NJ Hopeline: 1.855.654.6735|
|Veterans Crisis Line: 800.273.8255 (press 1)||Veterans Crisis Text Line: 838255|
|LGBT Resources Trevor Helpline: 1-866-488-7386||GLBT National Helpline: 1-888-843-4564|
|Addictions Hotline: 1-800-238-2333||Substance Abuse Treatment Referral Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)|
Sexual Violence Services
|Rape Crisis Hotline: 1-888-264-RAPE||New Jersey Coalition against Sexual Assault: 1-800-601-7200|
|RAINN & National Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)|
Domestic Violence Services
|Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-572-SAFE (7233)|
Youth and Young Adults
|Youth Resource 2nd Floor Youth Helpline: 1-888-222-2228|
Community Resources and Referral
|CONTACT of Ocean & Monmouth: 732.240.6100; 609.693.5834||Child Abuse/Neglect: 1-877-NJABUSE (652-2873)|
Faculty / Staff
As faculty and staff members of OCC, you may be the first person to be aware when students are struggling with personal, family and/or mental health concerns. Some students may come to you expressing such concerns and seeking support, and other times it may be up to you to notice behavioral signs of psychiatric distress. Your awareness and expression of concern may be the catalyst your students need to get help early on, which can lead to better outcomes. Some common signs include:
- Dramatic change in academic performance
- Crying spells
- Sleeping in class
- Aggressive or argumentative behavior
- Inappropriate outbursts in class
- Decline in attendance or repeated tardiness
- Decline in personal hygiene or inattentiveness to personal appearance
- Display of severe anxiety about tests or upcoming assignments
- Expressions of hopelessness
- Repeated requests for special considerations
- Presenting to class or other campus activities under the influence of alcohol/drugs
- Any other noticeable change in the student’s behavior, mood, or presentation
Once you have identified concern for a student there are several things you could do to help. Many times, staff and faculty provide adequate support through listening and simple problem-solving; however, there are situations when it would best serve the student to encourage them to seek professional help. The following are tips for having the conversation about a referral to counseling services:
- Speak to the student in a direct, concerned, straight-forward manner
- Communicate clearly the reasons you are concerned and why you believe counseling would be helpful. Let the student know you are doing so because you care about them.
- Explain the services provided by the counseling department. Direct the student to our webpage under Information and Resources for Students
- Sometimes it is useful to help the student make the initial appointment. You can offer to call with the student, or in some cases it might be necessary to walk the student over to our office. In those cases, call our office at extension 2911 and we will be sure to have a counselor available when you arrive.
- If you need help in deciding on whether or not it is appropriate to make a referral, contact us with any questions or to request a consultation.
If you need immediate assistance from a counselor due to a student in crisis or distress, call Counseling Services at ext. 2911 or security at ext. 2200.
- The purpose of the CARE Team is to facilitate communication, assessment, decision-making and action about potential and real risk situations, involving persons of concern, including students, faculty, staff and visitors.
- The CARE Team is focused on the safety of the individual and the campus community through pro-active and early intervention activities.
- Membership of the CARE Team is comprised of representatives from faculty, student affairs, academic affairs, human resources, college administration, and security.
- Submitting a CARE Report can be done anonymously, but doing so limits the capabilities of the CARE Team in investigating the report and gathering additional information. When the reported concern is related to a mental health issue or student in distress, a counselor will take appropriate action.
Confidentiality Note: Due to confidentiality laws surrounding counseling, we may not be able to provide information related to the outcome of student outreach and involvement in counseling. Students have the ability to sign a Consent to Release Confidential Information form to permit such communication, but this is a voluntary action and is only requested when doing so would help to facilitate resolution of the student’s concern. While we greatly appreciate your referral and understand the concern for your students, we are legally required to maintain confidentiality and privacy when our services are provided.
Parents / Guardians
Just as it is best to intervene early with physical health conditions, it is also best to recognize and treat mental health conditions in the early stages. As parents and caregivers, you may notice changes in your loved one’s behavior or presentation that you may be concerned about. While each specific mental health condition or diagnosis will have unique symptoms or warning signs, the following list from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) provides an overview of common indicators of the possible development of mental health difficulties.
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
If any of these signs are present, or if you have additional questions, call Counseling services at 732-255-0386 to speak to someone about your concerns.
*Note: this is NOT a crisis line. If you or your loved one is facing a psychiatric emergency, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.
Many parents feel ill-equipped to facilitate conversations with their adult children about mental health issues. The reality is, there is no “perfect” way to have these conversations, but there are many really great ways to let your child know you care. Your job in these conversations is to listen without judgment, and offer as much information as you have. When you feel like you don’t know the answer, that’s OK – just use the resources provided on this page to guide yourself and your child to someone who can help. Read the A Parent’s Guide To Mental Health For College Students article for insights from an expert on college parenting.
Hospitalization of a loved one and what follows after discharge from treatment is often a very difficult, overwhelming time. The first signs of mental health conditions frequently emerge during early adulthood, therefore the onset or intensification of symptoms is a common experience among college students resulting in suicidal ideation or immediate mental health care needs. Additionally, the amount of stress many college students are under due to academic, career, or other external pressures can also contribute to psychiatric distress requiring hospitalization. If your loved one is an Ocean County College student and has recently been hospitalized, please review the following for tips and recommendations to facilitate a safe recovery and return to school:
- Ensure development of a comprehensive after-care plan with the hospital treatment team. This may include outpatient treatment programs, therapists, psychiatrists, and any other relevant community supports. Ideally this is completed prior to discharge from the hospital; however in the event this is not provided, call the hospital and ask for referrals based on their clinical recommendations. Depending on any authorization for release of protected health information, hospital staff may only be able to speak with the person receiving care. They may need to make this phone call themselves to receive this information.
- Familiarize yourself with available resources, and encourage your loved one to connect in their community. These may include (but are not limited to): self-help meetings, local non-profits that support basic needs, and crisis hotlines. Many of such resources are listed on our website, as well as ULifeline (search for OCC under “Find Your School”).
- Connect with OCC Counseling Services. Ocean County College provides free, confidential mental health counseling to all OCC and Kean-Ocean students. Licensed counselors are available to provide short-term counseling, crisis assessment and intervention, as well as referral services for ongoing treatment and linkage with additional supports. A strong protective factor against continued distress is a sense of connection or belonging in one’s community. Having a relationship or “safe place” on campus often provides students with reassurance needed to feel comfortable returning to school. OCC Counseling Services is not otherwise informed if one of our students are hospitalized. Therefore, it is very important our students or their families advise of such circumstances in order to receive our support.
- Engage in open, nonjudgmental conversation. Simply talking about mental health conditions, symptoms, concerns, and experiences reduces stigma and encourages your loved one to continue to be open about his or her challenges. Symptoms worsen in the darkness. Providing support and assurance that you are a safe person to talk to is immensely helpful.
- Develop a safety plan. Talk with your loved one about any high risk situations and plan steps ahead of time to ensure safety. If your loved one has expressed suicidal thoughts and has talked about a plan (or has attempted suicide) remove any access to means of acting on this. Common ways of removing access to means include: securing all medications, removing/securing any firearms or other weapons in the home. Talk with your loved one about what is needed to increase safety in your individual circumstance, or enlist the help of a counselor to complete this task.
- Be sure to take care of yourself, and that your loved one does the same. It is incredibly important during periods of high stress that you and your loved one are getting sufficient sleep, eating nutrient-dense foods, drinking water, exercising, avoiding drugs/alcohol, and taking medication as prescribed (if applicable).
- Consider speaking with a counselor yourself. Caregiving can be very stressful, and you may find it helpful to have a place of your own to discuss any fears, thoughts, or questions you have along the way.
Kate Pandolpho, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, GCDF
Director, Counseling and Student Development Services
Susan Ebeling-Witte, MS, LPC, NCC
Student Intervention Specialist
Kelly Petrolis, MS, LAC, NCC
Student Intervention Specialist
Katie Hueth, MA, LPC, LCADC, NCC
Prevention Education Coordinator
Eileen Burdge, MS, LAC
Community Services Specialist
Coordinator, Displaced Homemakers Program
Marcia Slekitis, MS
Community Services Technician
Displaced Homemakers Program
To make an appointment, please call our office at (732)255-0400 ext. 2911, or email us at email@example.com. You can also stop by our office and speak with any member of our staff.
Yes. Everything shared in counseling, including your involvement with our department is completely confidential. Without your written permission, we cannot release any information about you or what you discuss with your counselor. With that said, there are a few exceptions:
- The professional counselors within the OCC Counseling Services Department and/or members of the OCC CARE team may consult with one another in order to provide you with the most comprehensive care.
- If there is reason to believe you are in imminent danger of hurting yourself or someone else.
- If counseling staff has reasonable cause to believe that a child, elder, or otherwise vulnerable adult, disabled or incompetent person has been subject to abuse, acts of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
- If ordered by a court to release confidential or privileged information.
All other communication with family, professors, other college staff, treatment providers, or any other person involved requires your written permission.
- In the event of a psychiatric emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
- The after-hours answering service for psychiatric emergencies: 732-286-2441
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or texting 741741
Yes. You can walk in anytime the office is open to speak with a counselor. Depending on the urgency of your concern, you may be seen right away or you may schedule an appointment to come back.
- Balancing responsibilities
- Building resilience
- Concerns about academics
- Dealing with life changing situations
- Family conflicts
- Life planning
- Living with a mental health/physical health condition
- Problem solving and decision making
- Relationship issues
- Self-care and wellness
- Sexual or interpersonal violence; Title IX issues
- Stress or feeling overwhelmed
- Substance abuse and addiction (self or significant others)
Commonly Abused Drugs, Effects, and Signs of Abuse
Please review the chart for information related to common drugs of abuse and their effects, as well as principles of effective addiction treatment.
Mental Health Apps
- Mindfulness: Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer
- Mental Health: Happify (accessibility mode available), Pacifica, 7 Cups, Virtual Hope Box
- Suicide Prevention: My3App