For many college students, navigating life, higher education, careers, and adulthood can be overwhelming at times. Hannah Hayward, a health educator at the University of Houston-Victoria Counseling Center, wants students to know they don’t have to battle these overwhelming feelings and thoughts on their own.
“For some, going to college is part of figuring out who you are and the next steps in figuring out who you want to be,” Hayward said. “Here, students can do that and have access to free counseling to help them navigate these changes.”
The UHV Advice Center offers students a wide range of opportunities to get advice and to learn more about health and wellness topics. The center provides free and confidential individual, couple, and group therapy services to all enrolled students, including graduate students and students taking courses at the UHV Katy campus. Students also don’t have to live on campus to receive counseling and can meet in person or schedule a virtual session with a staff member. To schedule a therapy appointment with a counselor, students can email [email protected] or personally visit the center, 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 significant anxiety or depression,” said Michael Wilkinson, UHV senior director of student services and justice affairs and director of the counseling center. “These statistics speak for themselves. Our students face a variety of difficult challenges. It is our job in the counseling center to break down barriers that can stand in the way of academic success. In my opinion, focusing on mental health is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. I want to encourage students to be bold and purposeful when it comes to improving their own mental health during their time at UHV.”
While traditional counseling services are available, the center also offers therapy support online, also known as TAO. This online self-help tool and confidential service is available to students at their own pace and does not require speaking to an advisor. Students can listen and explore self-help techniques, such as mindfulness practices, to help manage stress and anxiety.
The center hosts educational events for high school students throughout the year that focus on physical, mental, and sexual health and other related issues such as substance abuse.
Some events, like Tuesday’s “Let Talk About: Healthy Relationships” and the upcoming Clothesline Project, which will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to raise awareness about domestic violence, will be partnered with community resources like Mid-Coast Family Services so students have information on what services are available to them in the Victoria area. The Clothesline Project is scheduled for September 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and UHV students, faculty and staff are invited to decorate a t-shirt for survivors of domestic violence and write a positive message on it. The shirts will be displayed on campus in 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 October 6, the center will make a virtual screening available online for students to take survey questions about their health. Based on the student’s survey results, Counseling Center staff will contact the student to see if they would like to see a counselor or other counseling services. On October 10, students can learn more about mental health issues around the world during a World Mental Health Day event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the UHV University Commons Lobby.
In addition to educational presentations, the center also hosts events such as Walk With Us Wednesdays. During the months of September, October and November, students, faculty and staff are invited to meet every other Wednesday on campus at the jaX statue for a walk around the jaX track. Different times are offered for each event, so students, faculty and staff are encouraged to check the UHV calendar or JagSync for start times.
The Light Up the Night: Glow 5K, a domestic violence awareness event, will take place on October 20 from 6pm to 10pm, starting on Pyramid Row. The university is collaborating with Victoria College for the event and all students, faculty and staff are invited to attend. Organizations that help victims of domestic violence, including organizations that help male victims, are invited to attend the event to spread information. To attend the event, contact Hayward at [email protected]
Kai Martinez, a junior biology major and president of the UHV Student Government Association, is grateful for the advisory services and educational events hosted on campus. She appreciates that the university has a center that offers so many different ways to help students, especially after high school where counseling services have been limited.
Martinez enjoys using TAO so 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 UHV’s counseling services. Even for students who are shy or intimidated to speak to an advisor, confidential services such as TAO are still available to students.
“It’s okay 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’re not ready to talk to a counselor, they’re there for you when you’re ready.”
The UHV Advice Center is available to all UHV students. To learn more about the center and its services, go to www.uhv.edu/counseling.
Located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region of Victoria, Texas since 1973, the University of Houston-Victoria offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the Schools of Arts & Sciences; business administration; and Education, Health Professions and Human Development. UHV offers face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a classroom location in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can attend from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Opportunities for All initiative to raise awareness of state colleges and universities and their important role in providing quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population and to contribute to the region afford and state economic development.