Good mental health is an important part of student success, yet many students may be unaware of the free resources available to them at the College of Charleston.

One of these resources is Students 4 Support (S4S). Formerly known as the Cougar Counseling Team, this peer-to-peer counseling resource has been revamped this semester with a new name. S4S is a team of trained volunteer students that provides emotional support via text or in-person.

And although S4S cannot offer in-person services during the College’s e-learning period due to the coronavirus pandemic, Students 4 Support will still continue to operate its normal texting services 12-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday starting Monday March 23, 2020. Students who need support are encouraged to continue reaching out via the texting service.

“To our College of Charleston community, please know no matter where you are and what you are dealing with, you are not alone,” S4S said in a message to students. “If you need someone to talk to we will always be there to support you. Our mission to continue supporting College of Charleston students remains strong and unwavering.”

Previously located in the Robert Scott Small Building, S4S’s physical location is now in the Stern Student Center room 322. While the team’s name and location have changed, the group’s mission to support CofC students remains the same.

Rachael McNamara, a health educator at CofC and the supervisor of S4S, says the name change should help avoid confusion between the two counseling resources on campus, which also includes the licensed staff in the Counseling Center, an office that provides clinical services to students dealing with mental health challenges.

“The names just became very similar, and so people were getting confused and going to the wrong places for different things,” says McNamara. “’4support’ is what people text in to the texting program so it was a way to keep some continuity between their name and what they do.”

S4S student volunteers are trained to listen, clarify, and, if necessary, support students in developing their own plan. They offer a listening ear and a safe, judgement-free space for students to vent about whatever is on their minds. However, S4S members are not licensed therapists and students who may benefit more from professional therapy services should contact the Counseling Center.

Everything discussed between students and S4S peer counselors is confidential. Students may reach out over the phone by texting “4support” to the number 839863 at any time. S4S members are available to reply from noon until 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

S4S recruits new members at the end of every semester. Students with a desire to help others and the time to commit can submit a student application package through the S4S webpage.

While the positions are unpaid, the benefits of joining S4S include gaining experience in therapeutic listening as well as interacting with experienced counseling professionals.

Samantha Laporta, a junior majoring in psychology at the College, is currently in training to join the S4S team.

“Through this organization I hope to learn more about psychology as it applies to counseling,” she says. “I want to end the stigma around talking about mental health.”

Students seeking professional help for more serious emotional or psychological issues can still access services through the Counseling Center. Students with non-emergent psychological health concerns may contact the center directly by calling 843.953.5640. Emergencies or suicide concerns should be reported by calling 911.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

Priscilla Vanartsdalen is a freshman double majoring in English and communication. She is a writer and the social media director on campus for the online magazine for collegiates, ‘Her Campus.’