Counselling and psychological support: UniCamillus sensitivity towards its students in times of difficulty

In recent years, the number of universities in Italy offering counselling services to students has increased exponentially. This was reported by Il Sole 24 Ore in an article in which UniCamillus was mentioned as one of the universities most sensitive to the issue of psychological needs of individuals. Since its first years of operation, long before the article’s findings, UniCamillus has offered its students the opportunity to seek support from a listening service.

In 2022, 61 universities were offering this service. This year, the number has risen to 70 and, according to the well-known economy newspaper, the forecast for 2024 is a further expansion of this service, thanks in part to the new 77 million euros in government funding secured by the Minister of University and Research, Anna Maria Bernini.

Psychological support for students has become an increasingly important issue in the university environment, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, it has never been unusual for a young person to experience personal difficulties during their academic career. However, this issue has only recently gained public attention, partly due to the stress that everyone experienced in 2020-2021. “At UniCamillus, especially since last year, there has been a real increase in the number of requests for access to the listening service”, says Professor Badolamenti, a UniCamillus lecturer in Clinical Psychology who receives students in her own campus office.

Problems related to adjusting to the university environment, emotional blockages, persistent anxiety and difficulties with exam performance are just a few of the aspects that often involve a student’s private and social life. “I’ve had several cases of students experiencing high levels of stress, panic attacks and constant anxiety because they could not cope with the most difficult exams in their course. Generally speaking, anatomy and physiology are the two most complex subjects for which I’ve noticed that students often need to learn a suitable study method”, Professor Badolamenti continues, highlighting a statistical fact: “The students who come to the counselling service are mostly from the MSc Medicine and Surgery, and there are more Italian students than foreign ones”.

Sometimes the wrong choice of academic path can lead to a loss of motivation or difficulty in coping with external pressure. There are also various cases of difficulty in concentrating or discomfort stemming from past traumas, sometimes related to identity, self-perception, body image or family and social relationships. These issues are often discussed, but those directly affected now have the tools to deal with situations that were taboo until a few years ago.

At UniCamillus, the Listening and Counselling Service is an active support space for students, with the aim of promoting personal wellbeing by recognising one’s own resources or factors that may hinder the pursuit of one’s goals, as well as promoting self-efficacy. Students at UniCamillus can rely on the professional and qualified staff provided by the University to get the help they need or simply to find someone to talk to about the difficulties they are experiencing. In fact, one of the main missions of UniCamillus is to help everyone achieve their academic goals and have a positive and fulfilling university experience, first and foremost for themselves. A journey that includes self-improvement and personal educational growth, even before professional success.