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Counseling introduces confidential, 24-hour phone service

October 12, 2018

In response to concerns about accessibility of services, particularly outside normal hours, Counseling Services announced its partnership with ProtoCall, a telephonic counseling service available 24 hours a day. The partnership, announced on October 1, is designed to increase the number of counseling services available by providing students the opportunity to receive counseling both after hours and on weekends. ProtoCall is also available to students during holidays, vacations and while they are studying abroad.

Bernie Hershberger, director of counseling services and wellness programs, explained that in implementing ProtoCall, Counseling hopes to provide more accessible and immediate opportunities for Bowdoin students seeking guidance.

“Students can … call a counselor when they are struggling late at night or early in the morning with any type of mental health concern, which allows greater accessibility when a problem is arising or feels overwhelming,” Hershberger said.

ProtoCall employs licensed counselors with doctorates or master’s degrees. . According to Hershberger, due to the uniformly positive reviews that the service received from other schools, Bowdoin decided to integrate ProtoCall into its own counseling services.

In the past, students who wanted to speak with a counselor outside of regular hours, on the weekends or during breaks had to call Security to get an on-call counselor. Now, they can speak with a ProtoCall counselor by calling Counseling at 207-725-3145 and then pressing 1.

According to Hershberger, ProtoCall counselors are familiar with Bowdoin and are bound to the same confidentiality policies that are enforced by the College’s Counseling. After speaking with a ProtoCall representative, students are required to write a report to give to Counseling the next day so that Counseling is informed and can continue helping the student.

Hershberger wants students to feel free to call about any range of issues they might be dealing with. Some common examples might include anxiety, depression, eating concerns or disorders, panic attacks, sleep difficulty, sense of overwhelm, homesickness and relationship difficulty.

“Hopefully students will feel free to call themselves and encourage their friends to do so when facing a crisis or an ongoing mental health challenge,” Hershberger said.

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