Five questions with ETSU counselor and THRIVE coordinator Eric Feltman

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 2, 2019 at 6:53 PM

A Greeneville native, East Tennessee State University counselor Eric Feltman is dedicated to helping fight the widespread problem of suicide on college campuses through THRIVE — an ETSU program focused on increasing awareness and engagement around the prevention of suicide and violence.

Outside of THRIVE, Feltman specializes in couples and family counseling, of which he holds a master’s degree from ETSU. He also specializes in addiction, trauma, anger and men’s issues.  

Feltman briefly: 

Favorite restaurant in area: Red Meze

Hobbies: “I love to play bass, I’m a part of a men’s workout group called F3 and I like to go contra dancing in Jonesborough.”

Dogs or cats? “Dogs, but I have one of each.”

Ideal vacation: “My ideal vacation would be a backpacking trip across Scotland.”

Favorite TV show: “Parks and Recreation”

What led you to being a counselor?

A desire to help others overcome obstacles and live more fulfilling lives. What has kept me excited about my job is the fun of creatively working through problems, and helping students build on their strengths to build confidence and be successful.

Tell me about the work you do with THRIVE and why it's important. 

THRIVE is an outreach program of the ETSU Counseling Center. Our mission is to prevent suicide by increasing awareness, providing experiential workshops in classrooms that teach students how to manage stress and how to intervene if they have a friend who might be suicidal. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, with an average of about 1,100 college students per year dying by suicide.

How important do you think it is to talk about mental health, especially things like depression and anxiety, on campus?

It’s extremely important. A stigma around seeking support for mental health still exists, and the more we can normalize seeking help, the more likely students who are in need will speak up and reach out for help. Depression and anxiety are extremely common as a result of the difficulties related to college adjustment.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing students at their worst, and helping them become their best. It’s rewarding to be able to look back on where students were before beginning counseling, compared to the end of counseling. I love seeing them develop confidence, hope, and joy.

What's some advice you'd give to students as they prepare for the new school year?

Get connected! If you want to do well in school and life, you need to have solid friendships. Exercise! Don’t be afraid of your professor’s office hours, go visit and ask questions!

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