For many college students, sometimes navigating life, higher education, careers and adulthood can be overwhelming. It’s something Hannah Hayward, health educator at the University of Houston-Victoria Counseling Center, wants students to know that they do not have to fight those overwhelming feelings and thoughts alone.
“Going to college, for some, is part of finding out who you are and figuring out the next steps of who you’re trying to become,” Hayward said. “Here, students can do that and they have access to free counseling to help them navigate those changes.”
The UHV Counseling Center offers a variety of ways for students to receive counseling services and learn more about health and wellness topics. The center offers free and confidential individual, couples, and group therapy services to all enrolled students, including graduate students and those taking courses at the UHV Katy instructional site. Students also do not need to live on campus in order to receive counseling and can choose to meet in person or schedule a virtual session with a staff member. To make a therapy appointment with a counselor, students can email email@example.com or visit the center in person located at University Commons, Student Services Suite 2108.
“I recently read a study that found that one-third of college students experience some form of substantial anxiety or depression” said Michael Wilkinson, UHV senior director of student services & judicial affairs and director of the Counseling Center. “That statistic speaks for itself. Our students are facing a wide array of difficult challenges. It’s our job in the Counseling Center to help remove barriers that can get in the way of student success. In my opinion, focusing on mental health is one of the best gifts an individual can give to themselves. I’d encourage students to be courageous and purposeful in regard to improving their own mental health during their time at UHV.”
While traditional counseling services are available, the center also offers Therapy Assistance Online, also called TAO. This online self-help tool and confidential service is available to help students at their own pace and does not involve speaking to a counselor. Students can listen and explore self-help techniques such as mindfulness exercises to help manage stress and anxiety.
The center hosts educational events throughout the year for students that focus on physical, mental and sexual health and other related topics such as substance abuse.
Some events, such as Tuesday’s “Let Talk About: Healthy Relationships,” and the upcoming Clothesline Project, where students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to help raise awareness of domestic violence, are co-hosted with community resources such as Mid-Coast Family Services, so that students have information about what services are available to them in the Victoria area. The Clothesline Project is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 27, and UHV students, faculty and staff are invited to decorate and write a positive message on a T-shirt for domestic violence survivors. The shirts will be on display on campus for the month of October.
In October, the center will host events where students can learn more about their mental health and issues that affect people around the world. During National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 6, the center will have a virtual screening available for students online to answer survey questions about their health. Based on the student’s survey results, Counseling Center staff will check in with the student to see if they would like to see a counselor or access other counseling services. On Oct. 10, students can learn more about mental health issues around the world during an event celebrating World Mental Health Day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the UHV University Commons Lobby.
In addition to educational presentations, the center also hosts events including Walk With Us Wednesdays. For the months of September, October and November, students, faculty and staff are invited to meet at the jaX statue during every other Wednesday on campus for a walk around the jaX track. Different times are offered for each event, so university students, faculty and staff are encouraged to check the UHV Calendar or JagSync for starting times.
The Light Up the Night: Glow 5K, an event to help spread awareness of domestic violence, will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 20 beginning at Pyramid Row. The university is partnering with Victoria College for the event, and all students, faculty and staff are invited to participate. Organizations involved in helping victims of domestic violence, including organizations that help male victims, are invited to join the event to help spread information. To become involved in the event, contact Hayward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kai Martinez, a junior biology major and the UHV Student Government Association president, is grateful for the counseling services and educational events that are hosted on campus. She appreciates that the university has a center that offers so many different ways of helping students, especially after graduating from high school where the counseling services were limited.
Martinez likes to use TAO so that she can learn mindfulness techniques on her own schedule. As a student leader on campus, she actively encourages students — especially the young men on campus — to take advantage of the counseling services offered at UHV. Even for students who feel shy or intimidated about speaking to a counselor, confidential services like TAO are still available for students.
“It is OK to seek help and talk to a counselor. It doesn’t define you in any way to take care of yourself,” Martinez said. “Even if you are not ready to talk to a counselor yet, they are there for you when you are ready.”
The UHV Counseling Center is available for all UHV students. To learn more about the center and its services, go to uhv.edu/counseling.