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Kim Peters

A Few Minutes With Kim Peters

AHS media relations specialist Vince Lara speaks with AHS embedded counselor Kim Peters, who talks about working in a university setting, services she offers and how best to contact her.

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VINCE LARA: Hi, and welcome to another edition of A Few Minutes With, the podcast that showcases Illinois' College of Applied Health Sciences. I'm Vince Lara. And today I'm speaking with embedded counselor Kim Peters, who talks about working in a University setting, services she offers, and how best to contact her. Kim, thanks so much for being a guest on A Few Minutes With. I want to ask you, first off, what made you want to work in a university setting?

KIM PETERS: I appreciate you having me on. I welcome this opportunity to get to speak to you and your audience. And I would have to say that what brought me here to the university was I've been in private practice for the last four years. And there's been such a shift and a change in, I guess, an awareness about diversity, and the changes, and the needs that we have in society, in general, on how to help one another. I felt like there's an opportunity to really expand and get connected in a more diverse way. I really welcomed the opportunity to learn more, to be a part of a bigger program.

Working by myself can be kind of lonely. And you don't un-stagnate, in a way. So I was really excited to learn. At the University of Illinois, there's so much knowledge that it's a great opportunity to take in and be a part of the Counseling Center.

VINCE LARA: Can you tell me a little bit about the services you offer?

KIM PETERS: Sure. We are offering services for undergraduate and graduate students. And the faculty and staff are supported in the mission of helping the students. So we could be a supportive service to them if they have a student who is need or maybe a topic in the classroom that you could present it on, we are able to come in and help support so that means. The staff and faculty have their own resources and support directly for them. So our focus is really on the student population.

VINCE LARA: But I'm wondering, what sort of issues have you seen people having that have come up for people during this pandemic?

KIM PETERS: Well, depression and anxiety have always been a part of the human condition because of loss, grief, stress. So one factor or the one common thread that seems to be going out, whether it be in private sector for mental health or for academic populations, is the motivation fatigue. I'm seeing a lot of maybe more shame-based issues where you have the inner critic going on, like blaming yourself for not being more active, or I used to be able to do more. So I think the heavy-handed negative conversations that we get into about not doing enough really makes us feel worse, but then being able to acknowledge that this is really hard and that we need to have more compassion. So I think that there are, obviously, lots of self-help apps and lots of information out there. But I would say it's a lot of the anxiety, depression, with grief and loss, and the motivation part that's really struggling for people.

VINCE LARA: During this pandemic I think a lot of us have had moments where we felt like we were doing OK during it and then moments where we weren't doing so OK, the kind of peaks and valleys that people go through. What can you attribute that to beyond the regular school calendar of things for students? Do you see any connections that students might have?

KIM PETERS: Well, it's very personal. It's a very specific thing that sometimes can happen because things can be an accumulation or you can have multiple issues happening. But I believe a lot of it is fatigue, not getting enough sleep, interrupted sleep, diet, eating and taking more caffeine, eating more carb foods that gives comfort. Even those little things really can start to be problematic. But they are also what we use for comfort. One of the things I think that sometimes we don't recognize is the seasons. We're getting ready to go here with spring.

Spring is always a time of renewal and a little bit of anxiety because we do more. And the sun is out. And so we want to do other things that are maybe pleasing or that require effort, maybe it's to mow the lawn, or you're out more with friends, or walking dog. But those things are can take more time. As pleasing as they are, certain things can trigger new struggles or opportunities. So I guess my answer is that there are peaks and valleys. But I would say for the calendar year, you're going to have the midterms and the final exam, times when projects come due.

And procrastination has happened. And perfectionism is occurring. And things can get done. And then extensions have to be asked for. And stressors go up. And then you find people feeling really shameful about that and become anxiety-ridden, and a bit of sadness and loss comes into play. So there is a calendar year, but there's also a lot of specific things that happen for us as humans.

VINCE LARA: You know, so many of us, Kim, are looking forward to the time when we can travel again, when we can see family again. But there are people who do fear what going back to pre-pandemic life will be like, maybe people who are introverted or people who have anxiety. And I've wondered, have you spoken to any students who feel that way? And what do you tell them?

KIM PETERS: Absolutely. There's a lot of fear that's going to be coming about with just the change of new information, what that looks like. A fear of the unknown are definitely just part of it. When we left and went into the pandemic and now we're leaving, it'll be a transition with experiences that weren't there before because this is new. So I would say there are. But we're still further out because we're not there yet. So I think there's still some distance, although you can feel the energy shifting, as people brace themselves for relationships and expectations, and can I do this, or do I have power, or am I powerless in this situation.

So I believe you were going to see a variety of experiences, just like we saw when we started. We'll see it again. But people are resilient. People are really adaptive and need to remember that they have a lot of inner strength and support on campus, as well as with family and friends. And the Counseling Center is a definite space for support. So I think people will do fine. We'll go into it, it'll be stressful, and we will find a way to manage it.


VINCE LARA: You know, Kim, there's such a focus on student mental health, especially on campus during this pandemic. And one of the things I think that would be really useful for the students here would be, how to reach you, number one. But number two, what sort of things would a student need to know in order to reach out? Or do they have to be even enrolled?

KIM PETERS: Good questions, very good questions. If a student is in Applied Health Sciences, they can reach me best at the email They just need to reach out and say I have some questions, I'd like to get an appointment. And I'll respond back to them and help them get into an appointment, help them answer any questions they might have, steer them into the direction of maybe the Counseling Center services, whether it be maybe group or outreach, or just in services that might be on campus as well.

So that would be the starting point. They can also call the a regular center office at 333-3704, of course it's 217-333-3704, or over to the and pull up all of the website information, which there's tons of information that can be helpful in getting an appointment and getting information. I think it's really important that students recognize that you don't always have to be a registered client. You can get on to a lot of our skill-building workshops and just register just off of the website.

So we have, for example, Rio. Rio is one of our great services that can help students with meditation and learning how to be mindful. And you don't have to be seeing a therapist or a counselor there. You just have to register online. And so I think there is a misconception that you have to be linked with the actual counselor. You can do both. But I think that's important that students realize that it's much more comprehensive.

Tuesdays at 7:00, that is another fantastic opportunity for students. It's led by a Counseling Center pair of professionals, Tuesdays at 7:00. And they have a focus on topics that are areas of growth for students. So Tuesday, March 30, they're cultivating resilience in difficult times. You just register, put in your Zoom information. And then you're in the new Zoom meeting. So there's lists of those daily mindful workshops that are every day, Monday through Friday from 4:15 to 4:30.

So I just would like to encourage your listeners to take a look at the Counseling Center website or reach out to me. I'm happy to answer any question. There aren't any that are too small. And don't be nervous about asking the questions. I'd rather you do that and I can get you where you need to be so that you're not suffering or sitting in stress and anxiety, or even some depression and loss. So I hope they'll take time to check out the services we have.

VINCE LARA: My Thanks to Kim Peters. For more podcasts on Illinois College od Applied Health Sciences, search A Few Minutes With on iTunes, Spotify, IHeartRadio,, and other places you get your podcasts fix. Thanks for listening and see you next time.

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