FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley community colleges are taking action to promote good mental health among their students by offering free counseling sessions.
At the height of the semester, Fresno City College administrators say they were averaging over 50 new requests for mental health services a week. That's in addition to any walk-in crisis sessions.
They say the demand for these services has only increased since COVID-19 and they want students to know that more help is available.
Mariam Elsayed is a student at Clovis Community College and the president of the school's Active Minds club.
"Our goal is to change the conversation around mental health, end the stigma," said Elsayed.
Mariam says the pandemic and distance learning helped her realize it was time to make mental health a priority, so she decided to make some changes.
"I started becoming concerned about my own metal health a few years back," said Elsayed. "I've noticed an improvement in my happiness and connection to everything around me."
Now back on campus, she's determined to help other students do the same.
"Everything is connected," said Elsayed. "When your mind is affected, it can affect your academia, your body, your social life."
The State Center Community College District is providing a variety of free mental health services, including counseling sessions and assessments.
"We offer individual, couples, multiple group therapy options for students," said Fresno City College Coordinator of Psychological services Samuel Montano.
Staff members are hoping to help students through any challenges they're facing.
"Breakups, family relationships, severe mental health issues," explained Clovis Community College Coordinator of Psychological Services Tabatha Stewart.
Assisting students like Mariam, as they navigate the college experience.
"Talk to people, don't sit with secrets because help is out there," added Stewart. "You don't need to struggle."
The support is available for all State Center Community College District students. If you're a Clovis Community College, student visit their website. If you're a Fresno City College student, visit their website. Services are also available at Reedley College and Madera Community College.