The Miller-Morgan Building, which houses NCCU's College of Behavioral Social Science. Photo courtesy of NCCU PhotoShelter.

New campus behavioral clinic makes the mind their main matter

April 17, 2019

When we think of health, we tend to think of factors like lifestyle habits, taking medication, or even just the occasional checkups at the doctor’s office.

The newly launched Behavioral Health & Wellness Clinic at N.C. Central University addresses all those needs.

Located on the second floor of the Miller-Morgan Building, the clinic is open to students, faculty, staff and even the public.

It’s only been six months since the center was established by co-director Dr. Seronda Robinson, who is also a professor and chair of NCCU’s Department of Public Health Education. Since then, a number of graduate students are finding work within the clinic.

“The clinic is fairly new, so this will be our first full year, but a couple interns from various graduate programs in the College of Behavioral & Social sciences as well as the undergraduate public health education program do help out in the clinic,” Robinson said.

Aside from the educational aspect, the clinic happens to be quite beneficial for Durham residents in the surrounding area.

“It’s not just for students, but also available for those low-income communities centered around the university that may not have the resources or transportation to visit a regular city clinic,” Robinson said.

That sets it apart from NCCU’s traditional health care center, located across from W.G. Pearson Cafeteria.

“Central’s Student Health Center only focuses solely on students and does not provide services to faculty, staff and the community, whereas the clinic sees to all those groups,” Robinson said.

Another major difference is that the clinic focuses on integrated health, rather than just tackling one health problem as it comes up.

“Integrated health addresses the whole entire being or the whole person,” Robinson said, “not just a typical medical model, whereas you would go into the doctor’s office to receive some type of medicine or treatment for a particular illness, pain, or symptom.” It also includes looking at a patient’s emotional and nutritional concerns.

The clinic tries to keep fees for patients relatively low to benefit the surrounding community.

Dr. Sherry Eaton, a co-director and chair of the psychology department at Behavioral Health & Wellness, said the clinic receives a decent number of students that are concerned with having learning disabilities.

“We do get a good few students coming through who want to be evaluated mentally to see why they may be having difficulty performing academically or other adjustment issues,” Eaton said.

Students in Eaton’s graduate program are required to complete a practicum.

“They have to complete 750 hours, hands-on,” Eaton explained. That includes diagnosing illnesses and breaking down different problems for clients. Sometimes, the best treatments come in forms other than traditional medicine. That’s where students can dig deep into a patient’s background and determine what kind of natural remedies could be used.

Word is spreading slowly in the Durham community about the clinic, and the clientele continues to grow.

“I think it has progressed a lot for its age, just in terms of people catching on to its existence,” Robinson said.  “Also, by experiencing our clients, we have been able to better understand the types of demands that people have. So it’s like we’re prepared to address various issues and now we see what some of the more common ones might be, and how in depth our resources can go to come up with solutions to these same issues in the future.”

The Behavioral Health & Wellness Clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Story by Joshua Crawford.

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