New district mental health director seeks to build on current resources


Helen Harlan

Campus-based mental health services are located in the second floor Counseling center in the College Center. Campus Based Therapist Colby Arguelles stands at reception at her office on the second floor of the College Center.

Raising awareness about resources is just one of the aspects that new hire Taylor Johnson said she hopes to bring to the current Los Rios Community College District student mental health and wellness program.

Johnson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, came to Los Rios in late February as its first ever full-time director of student mental health services and said she aims to make the resources more accessible and student-friendly.

She said her number one administrative priority heading into the fall 2023 semester will be to add more clinicians or campus-based therapists.

“It’s one thing to build a program on paper that would function great,” Johnson said. “But if the students hate it, it’s not useful.”

Campus-based therapists such as Colby Arguelles.

Arguelles, a licensed clinical social worker, has worked for the district for over four years. She is stationed at Cosumnes River College on the second floor of the College Center where she counsels students who have scheduled one-on-one time.

“Colby is the expert on mental health at CRC,” Johnson said.

Arguelles said she agreed with Johnson on the need for more clinicians and full-time staff.

“One thing that we don’t have are staff,” Arguelles said. “Our program is run on part-time contractors and grad level interns.”

CRC currently offers such services as TimelyCare, self-scheduling appointments with a clinician and drop-in counseling on the first floor of the College Center.

“CRC is pretty unique in that we have drop-in counseling all day downstairs with the academic counselors,” Arguelles said.

She added that campus academic counselors have mental health education and support.

Arguelles said that having Johnson on board is a huge thing.

“She is a staff member, she is a director,” Arguelles said. “Taylor (Johnson) has a nice way of conceptualizing what the program will look like in the fall.”

Johnson said that as the program builds, her biggest concern is how isolating it can feel for a student to ask for help.

“That first step of even knowing when to ask for help is very difficult,” Johnson said.

CRC students shared similar thoughts with Johnson on how difficult it is to ask for help.

Cyril Williams, 19, a kinesiology major, said there is a stigma against asking for help among CRC students, especially if you are a male.

“It’s a little harder for you to be able to ask for help,” Williams said. “Because it might come as a sign of weakness.”

Psychology major Marquis Hardman, 18, said there’s a lot of stigma in asking for help.

“Especially when it comes to mental health,” Hardman said. “I think just asking for help shows you’re strong enough to understand that you need help and finding the resources to get that.”

General education major Sundi Washington, 23, said she hasn’t used any of the mental health resources on campus. Instead, Washington said that when she needs help, she goes to her teachers and staff.

“I just tend to vent,” Washington said. “That’s my mental health.”

Johnson said she thinks it is an exciting time for the district’s mental health program because the opportunities are endless.

“We are at a time when we’re getting student voices and hearing their opinions, hearing staff opinions, hearing the mental health team’s opinions,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get all of these viewpoints so we can best serve the population we are serving, which is the Los Rios students.”

Find more on Los Rios’s mental health and wellness services here.