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Counseling Center


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.”

two women talking

Schedule an Appointment

Call (732)255-0400 ext. 2911, or email us at to schedule an appointment.


Find remote classes on the Counseling Center Events!

Remote Counseling Services

The OCC Counseling Center is here for you with remote crisis intervention and emergency services!

If you are an OCC or Kean-Ocean student and are in need of services, please contact us by phone (732-255-0386) or email: and a counselor will respond as quickly as possible. We are monitoring all incoming calls and emails during regular business hours.

As always, if you are in crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Our services may be slightly different, but you can expect the same level of support and professionalism we have always provided.


If you are in need of emergency services please call one of the following services:

  • 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

Programs and Courses

Have you ever had questions about a mental health topic but weren’t sure where to turn, or if the information you found online was reliable? We have created a non-credit Canvas course, “Mental Health: what everyone needs to know”, where you will find information on common mental health concerns and topics as well as where to turn for information you can trust and resources available in our community. Enrollment is voluntary, completely free, and your participation will not be shared with anyone other than the course administrators (who are also the counselors on campus). We hope you find this information helpful!

Click to self-enroll in “Mental Health: what everyone needs to know”

In recovery and a student at OCC? Find support here.

The Recovery Support Program at OCC is now online via Canvas! Students can self-enroll in “The Campus Recovery Network” for information, resources, virtual support meetings, personal recovery coaching, online discussions, and more! Self-enroll online.

Participants in the program will have access to:

  • Peer Support
  • A private, on-campus Wellness and Recovery Center
  • 12 Step and SMART Recovery Groups
  • Relapse Prevention Support
  • Certified Recovery Coaches
  • Counseling Services and Treatment Referrals with a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor
  • Social Activities with Hope Sheds Light
  • Holistic Wellness Activities
  • Educational Opportunities and Training
  • Academic Support

For more information, contact the Counseling Center at (732)255-0386 or This program is funded by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and is open to all students in recovery from a substance use disorder or who are interested in living a sober lifestyle. Need addiction help? Call the Addictions Hotline of New Jersey: 1-844-276-2777

A program designed to help students who are academically at risk to learn the skills needed for academic success. Restore Your Score provides you with a designated counselor who will work with you to explore your academic experiences. In the Restore Your Score seminar you will also:

  • Identify obstacles and challenges and then develop a plan including what it will take for you to restore your academic good standing
  • Explore what it takes to be successful in college
  • Master the skills of prioritizing, time-management and goal setting
  • Connect with Counseling Center’s support network

Contact the Counseling Center for more information at: 732-255-0400 ext. 2911 or email us:

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:

Emotional Intellectual
Spiritual Financial
Social Occupational
Physical Environmental

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.

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

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)
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)
Hotline: 1-800-286-4184
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
732-920-2700; 732-244-1600
Ocean County Health Department
Alcoholics AnonymousNorthern New Jersey Intergroup
Meeting Finder
Narcotics AnonymousNA in NJ Meeting Finder
Gamblers AnonymousCouncil on Compulsive Gambling NJ SMART Recovery

Suicide/Crisis Hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
NJ Hopeline: 1.855.654.6735

Veteran’s Services

Veterans Crisis Line: 800.273.8255 (press 1) Veterans Crisis Text Line: 838255

LGBTQ Services

LGBT Resources Trevor Helpline: 1-866-488-7386 GLBT National Helpline: 1-888-843-4564

Substance Abuse/Addictions

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)
Harbor House
Hotline: 732-929-0660
Providence House
Hotline: 1-800-246-8910
Dottie’s House
Ocean County Board of Social Services

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.

File a CARE Report

  • 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.

Our Staff

Kate Pandolpho, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, GCDF
Director, Counseling Center

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

Marcia Slekitis, MS
Community Services Technician
Displaced Homemakers Program


No. All services are completely free for all students of OCC or Kean-Ocean Campuses.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. If there is reason to believe you are in imminent danger of hurting yourself or someone else.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  • Anxiety
  • Balancing responsibilities
  • Building resilience
  • Concerns about academics
  • Dealing with life changing situations
  • Depression
  • Family conflicts
  • Grief
  • 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)
Contact Us

Office Hours By Appointment:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm
Phone: (732) 255-0400 ext. 2911
Location: Library Bldg #3 – Suite 010

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
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