While the Disability Services and the Counseling Center reside under the same roof, the two provide different assistance for students at BYU-Hawaii, according to Director Leilani Auna. Students who are aided by the Disability Services can have a variety of disabilities from physical disabilities like deafness, or chronic pain and illnesses, to emotional or psychological disabilities like learning disabilities, depression, or ADHD.
Auna said the students who use the Disability Services are not given special treatment or a lighter workload but are simply given a different task to complete if they are unable to complete one in their course. She used the example of a hypothetical student in a wheelchair: the student will still need to take the required EXS 177 class for their General Education, but the student may be enrolled in a class that doesn’t require running. Instead of being given a free pass, the student will be given a different assignment to complete such as a written assignment.
Auna said, “They have come to BYU-Hawaii like everybody else. They have met the criteria to be admitted. Now that they’ve met the criteria, what we do is accommodate them in the classroom, and that’s not to water down curriculum. We’re here to help students to be successful so that they’re on the same level playing field as their peers.”
The Disability Services also offers help for students who have serious food allergies or celiac disease, as well as students who need to work with housing for things like wheelchair accessibility and service animals.
The Counseling Center is where students can come to get help in resolving mental, emotional, and psychological issues that come up while they’re at BYUH, said Auna. It is not a long-term treatment center, so issues like serious eating disorders and other similar kinds will be referred out to other treatment places.
There are four licensed clinicians at the Counseling Center who helps students who have personal problems like depression, anxiety, grief issues, abuse history, relationship problems, and other similar matters. Everything that faculty from both the Counseling Center and the Disability Services discuss with a student is kept confidential.
One student who wished to remain anonymous said their experience with the Counseling Center has felt safe. “It’s a place where I can be honest, sort out my feelings, and get a professional’s opinion.”
Another anonymous student said, “Sometimes I just need to talk and have someone listen. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so knowing there’s someone ready to listen is important to me.”
The Counseling Center offers several outreach services, which consist of both activities that educate students on issues like anxiety or depression. There are also groups like Children and Me Time, which is dedicated to helping parents spend more time with their children, and the Beautiful Women’s group, which help students to learn and bond in a group setting. Auna said, “For our outreach services, we do a lot of depression screenings, anxiety screenings, and we have a lot of presentations. I like to educate students about these things.”