Updated as of July 15, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. with an updated photo.
Anita Hodnett first stepped onto Elon’s campus in 2012 wanting to support college students as they transition into young adulthood. She started off as a staff counselor and later was promoted to assistant director of Counseling Services in 2018.
This fall, Hodnett will enter her ninth year at Elon, but this time as the director of Counseling Services.
“It means so much to be able to connect with students at this point in their life’s journey,” Hodnett said. “It’s an honor when students invite me into their space to offer them support, oftentimes in their vulnerable space when they are dealing with a lot of personal stress.”
As a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a national certified counselor, Hodnett has been working closely with the counseling team on new initiatives that will be incorporated on campus this academic year since the beginning of her term.
During the pandemic, Counseling Services operated primarily remotely. Beginning this fall, remote and in-person services will be available for students to access.
“It’s exciting that we will be able to offer both as a way to hopefully meet the demands of more of our student population,” Hodnett said. “We hope that will help reduce any barriers to access. We are seeing some good results with students using that now and I think that many students will find that helpful.”
Conversations about mental health and how to decrease the stigma of attending Counseling Services extend even beyond graduation for some students. Alexa Rasmussen ‘21 never thought she would see a counselor until she saw it as a positive outlet.
“I think a lot of Elon students think that you’re only going there if you’re having anxiety or depression, whereas I don’t have either of those, but I loved going to Counseling Services to have someone to speak to in confidence and have someone listen to you,” Rasmussen said.
One way Counseling Services is hoping to reach more students this year is allowing online appointment scheduling. Previously, students were required to call the Counseling Services phone number or visit the Ellington Center for Health and Wellness to schedule an appointment. Hodnett said she hopes students will use this new tool, especially with the expectation of seeing more students transitioning to college this upcoming school year.
“It’s important to me that we have a counseling center that does our best work to meet the needs of all students, ” Hodnett said. “We’re here to serve you all and we want students to feel comfortable to come to us. We want students to feel like our services are effective and helpful.”
As a recent graduate, Rasmussen hopes the center will increase their presence on campus, especially to the incoming freshmen class after a year of online learning.
“I think there should be a lot of focus on outreach to students,” Rasmussen said. “Students sometimes need a push to get into Counseling Services, but that push is what really saves them.”
Counseling Services has been partnering with other areas of campus to increase mental health awareness to students and faculty. Hodnett said she believes it is a priority for mental health awareness to be a campus-wide responsibility. The center has worked with areas such as Campus Recreation and Wellness, Student Health Services and faculty to incorporate into classrooms.
“I want to make sure we’re making mental health a conversation piece and priority that’s not just the counseling center’s work,” Hodnett said. “It’s really important that we infuse mental health awareness and suicide prevention throughout the campus community.”
Hodnet also serves as the advisor for Active Minds, an organization that serves to empower others to spread awareness about mental health. President of Active Minds Georgia Stoddard has worked closely with Hodnett and hopes the center will increase its presence on campus.
“I am hoping that there will be an increase in the amount of communication between Counseling Services staff and organization leaders,” Stoddard wrote in an email to Elon News Network. “This will help to eliminate any confusion that students have about the resources that Counseling Services offer and will also keep students in the loop about any new programming.”
Students, faculty and staff can access resources on the counseling services website and find more ways to connect with the center. With both telehealth and in-person services, Hodnett wants the Elon community to know that there is always a way to connect with counselors.
“I want no student to feel left out and unable to connect with someone,” Hodnett said. “Although I have been here for almost nine years, there’s still so much to learn about this role and the long range vision for our counseling center, but I’m excited to rely on what I hear from students, colleagues, and what my staff will be bringing in to move our counseling center forward in really positive ways.”
Counseling Services is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and those looking to make an appointment can call 336-278-7280.