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Counselor of 25 Years Hired as MC's New Mental Health Services Director
Jenny Crutchfield, after experiencing struggles during her adolescence, currently seeks to help college students thrive.
The new academic year has brought several changes to Mississippi College’s (MC) campus and faculty. Among these notable changes is the addition of a new director of Mental Health Services, Jenny Crutchfield. A counselor for 25 years, Crutchfield began working at MC in April 2023.
Crutchfield moved to Clinton when she was in sixth grade and has resided in the city ever since. As far as Crutchfield can remember, she has always been interested in helping other people when they’re struggling. Ultimately, what pushed her to pursue counseling in college was one of her personal experiences— her father’s passing away after she had graduated high school.
“My dad was just very easygoing, very loving, and very supportive of what I was involved in,” Crutchfield shared. “It was hard at 18, being so young, thinking about not having your dad for those future things like getting married, having children, and seeing me graduate college, so that was a big struggle for me. It wasn’t until a year or more that I realized I was struggling because I had not dealt with the death of my dad, so figuring that out and being able to work through that was important for me to be able to move forward.”
Following that experience, Crutchfield went to Mississippi College and majored in psychology. She interned at places like The ARG (Alcohol Research Group), a residential treatment facility for adolescents struggling with drugs and alcohol. Crutchfield explained that addiction was a part of her story shortly after the death of her father.
“I did my internship there and realized the need for teenagers to talk to somebody and have a sounding board,” said Crutchfield. “A lot of people don’t have that, so being able to see the need for people to talk about things and work through their problems was so eye-opening during that experience that it pushed me to that direction of counseling.”
Although Crutchfield felt eager to help everyone as much as she could, she decided to focus her counseling towards young adults. “For the longest time, I thought that I wanted to help young children,” said Crutchfield.
It wasn’t until she worked as a counselor for Hinds Community College that she changed course. There, she deeply resonated with the need for college students to have someone to talk to and discuss their struggles.
“I like working with the college-age students because they are more independent, and you can work with them and explore a lot,” Crutchfield said. “There’s a lot that college students are going through, like being away from home for the first time and trying to balance so much on their own, like family, school, and social life.”
Crutchfield is an LPCS (Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor), which allows her to supervise people entering the counseling field. She is also a BC-TMH (Board-Certified Telemental Health Counselor), which enables her to do her counseling sessions in-person or online. This would enable Crutchfield to work more effectively with students looking for her for counseling.
“It’s a long process to get your LPCS,” Crutchfield explained. “It takes over two years once you graduate to get that. To do the supervisor part of it, that’s a whole other long course that you have to take.”
Although she knows the process is long and harrowing, Crutchfield says that she is still looking for more certifications, ultimately to help even more people.
“The counselors [and I] were just like them at one time – college students,” said Crutchfield. “We have an ‘open door’ policy, where you can come in and see what it’s like, because this is your safe place.”
Crutchfield’s number one priority is to ensure students feel like they’re not alone.
“You can just come into your counselor’s office, shut the door, and unload,” expressed Crutchfield. “We want our students to feel safe and feel like they can talk about things and that they can feel comfortable doing that, knowing that everything is confidential here … we want them to know we are here for them.”
Crutchfield hopes that, under her supervision, students learn to not give up on themselves; they can be whoever they want to be. She emphasizes the importance of knowing that it’s never too late for students to feel the best about themselves. The director believes that college students’ lives are just beginning.
“We all start like little caterpillars,” Crutchfield said, “but we will blossom into beautiful butterflies.”
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