The dropping of a masking requirement in classrooms is symbolic of the growing sense of normalcy at the University of Maryland, but a painful, if invisible legacy of COVID-19 remains a reality on campus: an upward trend in mental health concerns.
It’s a nationwide issue, with 60% of 1,000 college students surveyed in June by Fortune and the Harris Poll reporting being diagnosed with a mental health condition, compared to 48% of the general population.
To help its community navigate lingering stresses of the pandemic as well as other difficulties, UMD works to meet the mental health and wellness needs.
“We offer a wide range of services because we don’t want to take a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health,” said Allison Asarch, Staff Psychologist and Coordinator of Consultation and Outreach Services at the Counseling Center.
The Counseling Center offers short-term services for students that range from one-on-one sessions and group therapy to career counseling—all at no cost to students. It also provides skill-building teaching sessions focused on the “two types of concerns that we most often see when students come to the Counseling Center, which are anxiety and depression,” Asarch said.
Students seeking treatment can make an intake appointment at the center’s front desk or by calling the Counseling Center at 301.314.7651. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Students can also request to be paired with a therapist of a preferred background, such as race or gender. The Counseling Center values culturally responsive care and has intentionally hired clinicians of diverse backgrounds. Counseling Center therapists of all backgrounds provide identity-affirming counseling and can incorporate issues related to identity in treatment.
The Counseling Center offers drop-in virtual workshops for students at 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday on 16 mental health and well-being topics, such as coping with stress, effective communication skills and time management.
The Wellness Workshops encourage strategies that broadly reflect the development of college students and that can be practiced in the classroom and personal lives.
“They are focused on the kinds of concerns that relate to academic success, relationships, and positive coping that anybody can benefit from to be able to improve and grow,” Asarch said.
New Program for Suicide Prevention
Representing a significant step forward in the university’s commitment to building a culture of care on campus, the Counseling Center’s new T.E.R.P.S. (Training to Evaluate, Respond to, Prevent Suicide) for Terps initiative significantly broadens UMD’s ability to support students in crisis, potentially heading off tragedy.
This three-hour experiential training provides faculty and staff the knowledge and skills necessary to help spot someone who needs help and to take action. T.E.R.P.S. for Terps kicked off last week with the training of 300 UMD resident advisors.
“Given the increase in severity of presenting concerns in college students overall, which also includes an increase in the number of students experiencing suicidal ideation and having a past history of suicidal ideation and attempts, we felt it was critical that we implement a low-threshold, highly interactive suicide prevention program for our campus,” said Chetan Joshi, Counseling Center director.
The well-researched training program was developed at Syracuse University and tailored to UMD, Joshi said. The Counseling Center introduced it on campus with financial support from the Parents Philanthropy Board, along with strong support from Division of Student Affairs leadership and input from student leaders.
Departments and other campus units interested in receiving training can fill out an outreach
request form on the Counseling Center’s website.
LGBTQ+ students, international students, students of color and student veterans are eligible for the Counseling Center’s weekly drop-in hours. A drop-in visit provides a safe space to seek support for these students, who experts say may be at a higher risk for stigmatization surrounding mental health and counseling.
Drop-in hours are held from 3-4 p.m. each weekday at the Counseling Center. Students will meet with an ally and will be asked to fill out a few brief surveys upon arrival.
The Counseling Center provides same-day urgent visits to students who are experiencing a crisis. Mental health professionals are also available for phone consultation by calling the Counseling Center outside of business hours.
Psychiatric and Off-Campus Referral
The Counseling Center can refer students who may benefit from psychiatric therapy either to Behavioral Health Services in the University Health Center, or an off-campus provider.
Behavioral Health Services also provides a variety of mental health services, including psychiatric medication management for students—a partnership with the Counseling Center that includes a full spectrum of psychological and psychiatric services, Asarch said.