A comprehensive plan for mental health

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How the UDCC works for students

It is always good to hear from students how we can improve services in the Office of Student Affairs, so we were grateful to Madelynne Van Roekel for taking the time in her article “A plea for better mental health resources,” to outline what she felt were shortcomings in the UD Counseling Center.

The good news is that the UDCC actually does most everything Ms. Van Roekel wishes it to do; the bad news is that we obviously have not communicated this as clearly as we should. We would like to remedy that failing here.

First, we acknowledge that it can be difficult for anyone who is struggling to seek help. That is why anyone on campus can help by emailing care@udallas.edu, studentaffairs@udallas.edu, by speaking with an RC, your dorm RA or by contacting one of us, if you know of a student who needs help. If you know someone who is hurting or struggling, please let us know! It is true that appointments online can fill quickly, especially at busy times of the semester; in just five years the Counseling Center has increased from treating 3% of the students to over 30% of them— a 600% change increase in five years. (Some may find that worrisome; we actually believe that is a good thing, as it suggests more students are getting the care they need.)

We will endeavor to get everyone an appointment that we can. In the case of a serious or immediate problem, if we can get the student to upstairs Haggar, Mrs. Sales will make space and time for a therapist to see the struggling student right away. We are adding new therapists as soon as we can get them hired.

Perhaps we also need to explain the language about “long term care” on the website. This is a professional term for treatment of significant, severe illnesses that need in-depth, often in-place care at a facility or ongoing medical treatment. An outpatient mental health clinic, like the UDCC, is not equipped to treat such illnesses, and for those, we will always do our best to find off-campus resources for that student.

We have a close relationship with Carrollton Springs Hospital and with UD alumnus psychiatrist Dr. Nick Heyne at Cornerstone Family Psychiatry here in Irving, and a few others as needed.

But for all other conditions, especially the anxiety and depression mentioned in the article, the UDCC is willing to engage in therapy sessions for as long as the student desires; Mr. Sumpter has seen students from freshman year through their graduation.

These sessions are, of course, free, as opposed to any therapist or doctor to whom we might refer a student off campus. We also offer online therapy sessions that can take place after regular hours, and students can connect with Telehealth options.

A word about phone emergency lines. While these can be helpful, a recent study showed that many of these have incredibly, even dangerously, long wait times. One recently showed an average hold time of 37 minutes and a 40% call drop rate. We would much, much rather students in crisis, or their friends, call UDPD so we can get an officer and an RC there in minutes and get the student quickly to the help needed.

Some Cardinal Newman schools only refer out; they do not offer their own services. Some list a wide panoply of off campus providers, but are all of those vetted for being top-notch facilities and a proper fit with the mission of the University? Without asking, one cannot know.

We believe the UDCC offers the best mix: free, in-house therapists who know UD student culture, combined with great relationships with those off-campus resources that can address even more significant needs.

Can we do better? Of course we can, and by helping us know where we can improve, Ms. Van Roekel has helped contribute to that. We again thank her for that. We will continue to do our best with our resources to help every student who needs it.

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