University Health Services, ASUC aim to support student mental health

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As students return to in-person instruction, University Health Services and the ASUC are offering various mental health services and resources to support student wellness.

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As students return to campus, University Health Services, or UHS, and the ASUC are offering various mental health resources to promote student wellness as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

According to UHS spokesperson Tami Cate, this semester poses unique mental health challenges for students who may be experiencing grief and isolation.

“Students have been adapting over the last year and half to an ever-changing environment, with the pandemic, social injustice issues, elections, natural disasters and so for many it can feel like one crisis piled onto another crisis,” Cate said in an email. “We have all learned to be more adaptive and resilient, but it is a lot, it’s cumulative stress and trauma.”

UHS Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, has worked to improve students’ accessibility to counseling by making the appointment process quicker and easier to navigate, Cate noted.

In addition to individual counseling appointments, CAPS offers other forms of mental health support to students through apps, group counseling, online self-help tools and workshops.

“Given so many students are transitioning back to campus and this is a big reentry year, our appointments are filling up each day, but we are seeing students quicker and hopefully getting them the resources they need and students can come back and see a counselor as needed,” Cate said in the email.

However, ASUC Senators Stephanie Wong and Issabella Romo expressed concerns about students being unable to access the resources offered through UHS due to appointment shortages.

Wong noted she has encountered issues accessing mental health support on campus, while Romo added that she knows students who have been unable to access counseling appointments for weeks at a time.

“The easiest solution is just hiring more counselors and, therefore, increasing the number of appointments available to students,” Romo said. “Not only do we need to hire more counselors, but we need to hire more counselors with a diverse set of identities and experiences that will allow them to better connect with students accessing these resources.”

To improve student wellness support, ASUC Senator Amy Chen’s office has been collaborating with UHS to increase the quality and quantity of counseling services and advocating for continuing pulse surveys.

Similarly, Romo’s office has been working to subsidize student subscriptions to the meditation app Calm. Romo’s office is also collaborating with other ASUC offices to distribute a mental health survey that will gauge the demand for certain types of resources.

“Obviously, we’re still in a pandemic and that itself causes increased mental health challenges for students. At the same time, the pandemic has also limited the resources the university offers to students,” Romo said. “There are gaps in the resources the university already has available to students and the resources that students actually need.”

Contact Rachel Raps at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @rachelraps_dc.