Published September 28, 2022
UB has expanded and strengthened its mental health support for the UB community, reminding students and other members of the UB community that help is a short step away.
The new initiatives — most designed for students, but with a few online resources also available to faculty and staff — aim to provide a variety of options for promoting the emotional well-being of UB’s diverse community, according to those administering the program.
“Counseling Services plays a vital role in helping our diverse student body develop and maintain the emotional well-being that is essential to academic success and in other areas of life,” says Sharon Mitchell, senior director of student wellness and director of Counseling Services.
“When students invest in their mental and physical health, they are better prepared for the challenges and opportunities the college experience may bring.”
Mitchell highlighted numerous new initiatives, all designed to develop positive mental health knowledge and behaviors:
The Embedded Counselor Program is a community-centered service that places a counselor within a community who has, or over time develops, specialized knowledge about that community. This reduces stigma by normalizing the process of seeking help with mental health within the community, making it more convenient to make appointments, and providing mental health consultation to students, and faculty and staff within the unit.
Starting in October, a counselor will be available at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mitchell says, noting that counselors are already embedded in Athletics, the School of Law, the School of Dental Medicine, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The Black Student Support Group meets in person from 2:30-4 p.m. Wednesdays in Richmond Quad, Ellicott Complex, North Campus. “The Black Student Support Group invites members of the African diaspora to come together to create community and dialogue around what it means for you to be Black,” its official description states. This group discusses various topics, including “culture, racial/ethnic identity, colorism, intersectionality, family, and diversity.”
There are also groups for those students who enjoy expressing their thoughts and feelings in non-traditional ways.
The Perfectly Imperfect: Art Journaling Group meets for five-week sessions twice during the semester. The meetings are held from 2-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays in Michael Hall, South Campus. “Do you feel like what you accomplish is never quite good enough? Do you worry about making mistakes or failing at something?” the group description asks. “Perfectly Imperfect offers a reflective and playful time for self-connection and uses expressive art activities to learn ways to let go of perfectionism, develop self-compassion and embrace who you are.
“Art journaling relies on the use of art supplies and creative techniques without the necessary pressure of a perfect result. The group offers an alternative means of self-expression and connecting with others. No previous experience with art is needed and all supplies will be provided.”
Counseling Services staff remind students that transitions can be hard, and it can be beneficial to talk to peers who can relate.
The Coping and Connecting online drop-in group meets from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursdays. The group is described as “an open group for students to increase understanding of their current experiences and to find ways to cope and connect with others. Attention will be given to (participants’) unique individual experiences, and to the contexts in which they experience them, in order to increase the capacity to respond more compassionately to themselves and to one another.”
Counseling Services also offers experiences that require no on-going commitment. Students can just drop in.
Friends Without Borders offers a friendly, comfortable setting in which students can get to know their peers from other cultures. The group encourages participants to “play games, have great conversations, and have lots of fun while making friends from around the world.” This event, open to all UB international and domestic students, meets from 3-4 p.m. Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in the Landmark Room, 210 Student Union, North Campus.
Student Life maintains a website where students can independently access a variety of tools designed to improve their mental health, and learn more about campus wellness services, Mitchell says. Resources, which are also available to faculty and staff, include:
TAO Self-Help is a customizable, self-guided program that features interactive educational modules and practice tools to help students understand and manage how they feel, think and act. Students can learn stress management, mindfulness skills, problem-solving, relationship skills and strategies for bouncing back from life’s disappointments and frustrations. TAO Self-Help is completely self-directed, with no contact with a mental health professional.
Mental health screenings are a quick way for individuals to determine if they, or someone they care about, may need to reach out to a doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation. These types of screenings are typically designed to be educational, not diagnostic.
Headspace offers science-backed meditation exercises and mindfulness resources.
For more information, go to the Counseling Services website.