As part of the evolving partnership between the Cox Health and Counseling Center and local health organizations, a New Directions employee will meet with students in the Counseling Center conference room from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Tuesday.
The initiative, called “Meet Your New Directions Advocate,” aims to further educate the Kenyon community about New Directions, a Mount Vernon shelter that provides various resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“[New Directions is] offering the same services to us that they are to the community, but oftentimes people don’t know what they offer. So we’ve got to kind of teach people first, educate them, and then … hopefully people will use the services that they need,” Director of the Health and Counseling Center Chris Smith said.
Conversations with the advocate, Lauren Lochotzki, will follow an “office hours” model and vary depending on student needs. Lochotzki will provide information about New Directions programs, such as their support groups and hotline. She may also answer questions and schedule appointments with New Directions. “If someone is really looking to talk about maybe an awkward hookup or just trying to understand what happened, that advocate can also help them process through that,” Smith said.
Meet Your New Directions Advocate is entering its third week, and Smith hopes to continue it through future semesters. So far, nobody has shown up during the designated time. “It’s April, and the campus is busy, so people might have prioritized other things,” Smith said. A few students hesitant to meet the advocate in a “potential group setting” have set up individual appointments with New Directions via email, according to him.
Lochotzki has been the Sexual Assault Advocate at New Directions since 2015. Her job involves legal, medical and emotional support for victims of sexual violence. She specializes in community outreach, specifically geared towards local colleges and universities.
“New Directions has always been a local resource for the community,” Smith said. “When an opportunity presented itself, they volunteered … and I think so far it’s really helping us meet a need.”
Recent changes within the Counseling Center and the downsized Peer Counselors program have prompted a greater demand for off-campus health options. However, Smith said that his staff has been considering New Directions as a resource for students since the fall. In previous years, the Office for Civil Rights occasionally brought New Directions advocates to the Eaton Center to meet with students.
Smith referred students seeking help outside of the Counseling Center and New Directions to Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham’s ’92 recent student-info email about off-campus resources. “We know that the needs on college campuses are growing, so we’re trying to grow with it,” said Smith.
Members of the Kenyon community who are seeking mental health support can speak to a licensed counselor by calling Campus Safety at 740-427-5000 and asking to be connected to ProtoCall. Knox County locals can contact New Directions’ 24-hour hotline at 740-397-4357.