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Campus Counseling

11/16/2011

MCLA's counseling services welcomed a new director this fall when Heidi Riello, M.S.W, LICSW, joined our campus community.

Over the course of her career, Riello has worked in community mental health and in private practice, with experience in working with children and adolescents. But she is most fond of the college setting. While she was in graduate school for her master's degree at Simmon's College, she served an internship at Framingham State University.

"I just loved college counseling. It's just a good fit for me in terms of the population," Reillo said. "There's just something about this developmental age that I connect with the best. I like to see the kind of change that occurs over the course of four years."

Before joining the MCLA community, Reillo, a clinical social worker, spent nearly four years as a staff clinician at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's counseling center. She also served as the assistant director of counseling services at Bryant University in Rhode Island for three and a half years.

A typical situation some students come to see her about could be a troubled relationship - whether it's with a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a roommate.

"They're just kind of figuring out how to communicate and resolve conflicts for the first time," Reillo said.

Stress and anxiety about finances is another common concern among students.

"I think that one reason is the times and the current economic situation. People are just more stressed in general. Money can be a big issue -- how people are going to pay for school, how they're going to get through the next semester. It can be very stressful just trying to negotiate how to figure that out."

Sometimes an easy fix to alleviate stress that students may experience is to remind them to take good care of themselves, such as by getting enough sleep, making sure they are eating with proper nutrition and getting enough exercise, Riello said.

Because suicide is the second leading cause of death in college-aged students across the nation, Reillo this month launched a suicide prevention initiative on campus. It's a training program for staff and faculty, as well as for students - such as residence assistants, peer advisors and those in student government - who are in positions where they may come across another student in distress or  having a crisis.

"It's a way to nip it in the bud before it becomes a crisis," she explained. "It's training community members to be in a place where they can intervene before a situation reaches a crisis level."

Some students might feel reluctant to take advantage of counseling services due to misconceptions that it will show up on their academic record. However, that is not the case.

"We always have to remind people that it's private and completely confidential," Reillo said. "I would encourage any student who needs to discuss something with a counselor to do so."