EDITORIALS

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November 12, 2019

In Defense of Taking Time to Grieve

In light of recent difficult events, students' need for easily accessible mental health services remains pressing. Here's a roundup of current resources.

In light of multiple recent student deaths this year, students’ need for easily accessible mental health resources remains pressing. Although high stress levels are often normalized at UChicago, the failure to treat mental health on campus as a serious concern harms students, especially in the wake of traumatic events.

Students across campus have pushed for improvements to the Student Counseling Service (SCS) and undertaken initiatives to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The current executive slate of Student Government ran last spring on a platform focused on increasing access to therapy for minority and LGBTQ+ students in particular. Meanwhile, Fair Budget UChicago continues to push for more funding for counselors, and for the past couple years, several student groups have cohosted Break the Silence, a multi-day annual conference that aims to spotlight mental health issues among Asian and Asian-American students.

Most recently, UChicago Mind Over Matter led a forum last week on the University’s response toward student suicide. Also last week, Student Government passed a resolution calling on SCS to issue a pass excusing class absences for therapy intake appointments and emergency sessions. This initiative would mark a key first step in combating backlog at the perennially overbooked counseling office. We hope that the administration will take its cues from the student body on this issue, and expand its response to traumatic on-campus events.

As students at the College from a variety of majors and years, we know that UChicago is not an easy place to be. Even if you love this school’s culture of academic rigor, the quarter system’s pace is grueling, and the intensity with which we all approach coursework, extracurriculars, and career preparation can cultivate an environment with little room for leisure.

Recent months have been marked by student deaths, as well as a case of alleged drugging and a reported sexual assault at a fraternity house. When tragedy affects the campus community, it can be difficult to break from academic demands for long enough to grieve. It’s vital to offer yourself and others the chance to process tough events, and for professors and administrators to recognize that a tragedy can affect members of the campus community beyond those immediately impacted—in particular, those with past traumas.

Whatever “taking time” looks like to you—whether it’s getting coffee with friends, speaking with a University counselor, or attending a mental health–focused event—we encourage students to grant themselves that time and space if you feel you need it. We also urge undergraduate instructors to be understanding as we close out a difficult fall quarter.

Below are some of the mental health resources available to UChicago students.


SCS: All services at this on-campus office are included in the Student Services Fee; there are no additional costs for students. Whether you think you might be experiencing mental illness or you’d simply like to talk through a problem with a licensed counselor, you can schedule an appointment by calling (773) 702–9800 or walking in during business hours, which are Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A student’s first SCS appointment is typically an intake assessment, during which a counselor recommends a treatment plan based on the student’s concerns. For longer-term therapy, students are often referred to a Hyde Park or Chicago-area provider.

SCS offers a variety of programming in addition to one-on-one therapy, including topic-specific therapy groups, couples counseling, and weekly workshops focused on stress management and coping with anxiety. The office also maintains a roster of psychiatrists who can prescribe medications and work more intensively with students, as well as specialists who perform consultations for substance abuse and disordered eating. A guide to SCS services is available online.

Students experiencing an immediate mental health crisis are encouraged to call SCS or walk in to meet with an urgent care counselor. If you need immediate help after hours, call (773) 702–3625.

SCS is located at 5555 South Woodlawn Avenue.


Let’s Talk: A confidential and free program, Let’s Talk is a drop-in service that allows any student to sit down and chat with an SCS counselor.

If unsure about therapy or simply wanting to talk, walk in during business hours: Mondays from 1–2:30 p.m. at the Law School, Thursdays from 3–4:30 p.m. at the Center for Identity + Inclusion, and Fridays from 3–4:30 p.m. at the Biological Sciences Learning Center.


Lean On Me: Lean On Me is a student-run peer counseling network. To get started, text their hotline: (773) 295–2306. Within a few minutes, a supporter—an anonymously matched UChicago student—will respond via text. A conversation can be as long or short as you’d like, and focus on simple or serious issues. If you ever feel uncomfortable, message “/flag” to be matched with another supporter.

All conversations are anonymous, unless you choose to disclose your name and location.


Mental Health First Aid: At this free training sponsored by the University’s Health Promotion and Wellness office, an instructor will walk you through how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis or developing an illness. The one-day, eight-hour course includes simulations, role-playing, and discussions about mental health risk factors relevant to university life. Register online. 


Wellness Czars: Wellness Czars (Wellczars) are liaisons, voted by their house in autumn quarter to serve for the full academic year, who update students living on campus about available University health resources. Topics include mental health, stress management, and safer drinking habits.


Dean-on-Call and Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call: The Dean-on-Call provides referrals and support for students during times of emergency. The Dean-on-Call might offer a student resources for legal assistance, connect you to counseling for emotional or academic management, or help you report a crime to the police.

The Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call (SADoC) is available 24/7 to answer questions regarding sexual assault, related legal procedures, and campus and community organizations that provide emotional support to sexual violence victims.

Contact the Deans-on-Call via the direct paging system number: (773) 834–HELP (4357). They can also be reached by dialing 123 on any campus phone, or calling UCPD Dispatch at (773) 702–8181.


Suicide Hotline: The suicide prevention lifeline is available 24/7, confidential, and free. If you’re worried about your own or a friend’s health, or in need of help finding suicide prevention resources, call 1-800-273-8255.


Lifeline Crisis Chat: The Lifeline Chat anonymously connects individuals with trained counselors, who listen to specific problems and offer support and advice. An extension of the suicide hotline, it is free and available 24/7.


Crisis Text Line: Also free and available around the clock, this nationwide service offers crisis intervention via text message. Message 741741 to ask for help.

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