We are all faced with daily challenges in our lives. Sometimes the challenges are beyond our control and require assistance from others.
WCC offers a free and confidential Mental Health and Wellness Program located in Hale ‘Ākoakoa 220, which provides counseling services and educational activities to support students’ life and academic goals. Services include individual counseling for dealing with such issues as depression, substance abuse, stress and time management; couples counseling; crisis intervention; outreach and consultation; and community referrals.
Karla Silva, a WCC alumna and Windward native, is the new full-time mental health counselor. Passion and life experiences led her into the mental health field.
“I used to be a DOE teacher,” said Silva. “When I was in the classroom, I had already known that I wanted to go into counseling. I went into the classroom to get a better understanding of what kids were dealing with. The longer I was teaching, the more I realized the need to have interventions for young kids to better prepare them for success later in life.”
Silva transitioned her focus to community-based counseling allowing her to work with any age group.
“In terms of my passion, I’ve always enjoyed helping people,” said Silva. “I always knew that I was going to be a helper profession whether it was going to be staying in the teaching field or counseling. I myself as a high schooler saw a counselor outside of my school. Unfortunately, it was not the best experience for me. I decided that I never wanted a teenager to have to go through that. So that was another inspiration into getting into mental health.”
Silva features an impressive resume. As a National Certified Counselor, she has worked with people from all walks of life including incarcerated inmates and people on probation.
“I have the background of working with a lot of trauma and substance abuse issues, as well as severe mental illness,” said Silva.
Silva was responsible for the development and implementation of the Veterans Treatment Court for the Hawai‘i State Judiciary First Circuit, a specialized court in which veterans are offered a holistic approach to available resources and treatment to aid in their recovery.
“I genuinely feel like my experience over the years has definitely prepared me to round back to this kind of setting where we have such a diverse population and everybody’s dealing with different challenges and issues,” said Silva. “I’m definitely grateful for the experiences I’ve had.”
All students currently enrolled at WCC are eligible for counseling services with Silva at no cost. To get started, students must schedule an initial appointment.
The first session is an intake appointment, which consist of gathering client background information including the “presenting challenge that’s going on for the student,” said Silva. “We can then start to look at what we want to do in terms of establishing a goal. We may not even have a goal set in the first session, but kind of getting an idea of where we want to go.”
For the initial appointment, students are asked to arrive 10 minutes early to complete necessary paperwork. Sessions are 45-50 minutes.
“I’ve had a lot of family members and close family friends that have struggled with severe mental illness,” said Silva. “I had always been drawn to helping my family members and friends get through challenges that they’ve had in life. For me coming back and being able to work here is kind of like being home.”
Students needing assistance can contact Silva at 235-7413. An informative workshop on counseling services offered through the program will be held on Oct. 23 from 9-10:30 a.m. in Hale ‘Ākoakoa 101-103.
by Tammy Pratt, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter