UK Counseling Center Creates New Resources to Better Serve Campus Community

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 24, 2020) — To meet the evolving needs of University of Kentucky students during these unprecedented times, the UK Counseling Center (UKCC) is activated as a key partner of Health Corps, the support hub for accessing services, information and referrals related to COVID-19 for students, faculty and staff this fall semester. 

"Our partners in the UKCC are key collaborators in supporting holistic student wellness,” said Lance Poston, project manager for UK Health Corps.“Their wide range of digital engagement options makes it easy for students across our campus and around the globe to receive exceptional mental health services." 

Quarantine and isolation can result in an increased sense of uncertainty, anxiety and irritability, as well as poor concentration and deteriorating work performance. These factors, combined with a change in environment and schedule, can take a toll on the mental health of students.

In a survey done in April by Active Minds, a national nonprofit focused on raising mental health awareness among college students, 80% of respondents said COVID-19 had negatively affected their mental health, and 20% said their mental health has significantly worsened during the pandemic.

Megan Marks, assistant director and outreach director of the UKCC, hopes to address these statistics on UK’s campus. 

“The UKCC has expanded its services and resources for the Fall 2020 semester to be responsive to the current needs of our students, returning and coming to UK, this semester,” Marks said. “Specifically, we understand that there is increased uncertainty, anxiety and emotion related to COVID-19, racial injustice, and an election year. We will continue to add services, programs, and resources over the semester to support students.”

While therapy is a great resource for many students, Marks understands that not everyone needs therapy. However, she does believe that most students can benefit from healing spaces, coping strategies and additional encouragement. 

To support a wide range of student needs, the UKCC worked to provide additional opportunities for students to connect with UKCC clinicians. 

Fall UKCC resources include:  

  • Let's TeleTalk: 3-5 p.m. Mondays; 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays; 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays; 5-7 p.m. Thursdays; 1-3 p.m. Fridays
  • COVID Positive Support Group: Mondays at 11 a.m.; Thursdays at 3 p.m.
  • Tools for Tough Times (coping strategies to add to your self-care toolkit): Tuesdays at 4 p.m.; Fridays at 10 a.m.
  • First-time appointments: Call 859-257-8701 or visit www.uky.edu/counselingcenter/ to schedule online (must be in Kentucky at the time of appointment)
  • Students outside of Kentucky: Call 859-257-8701 for assistance connecting with a provider in your state or visit the website
  • 24-hour phone consultation (evenings, weekends, holidays and university closings): Call 859-257-8701, press 1 at the prompt

“Our Let's TeleTalk program is an example of additional options outside of therapy — where students can easily and informally connect with a UKCC clinician for brief and immediate support,” Marks said. “We have also added weekly drop-in virtual programming specific to students wanting to gain tools on how to navigate these challenging times. In addition, we have incorporated online scheduling for our first appointments, and for the massage chairs in The Relaxation Room, to increase ease of access to some of our services.”

This school year looks very different from previous school years. In the past, a student’s main focus was learning how to navigate through classes successfully. With the pandemic continuing to plague the globe, this year, students will face additional stressors outside of just academics. 

While CDC guidelines have been put in place across campus, it is easy for students to feel tempted and anxious by people not properly following safety precautions. 

A tool Marks recommends to cope with these stressors is an app designed to promote wellness on the go. 

“We recommend downloading the Stressbusters Wellness app,” Marks said. “This app has some terrific tools to help manage the additional stressors — such as a deep breathing tool and the sonic spa for relaxing music and sounds. Plus, students can earn rewards for using the app. Additionally, students can take a brief, free online mental health screening at any time to check in on their mental health and learn about local resources. Students can access that by going to the UKCC website under student resources or using this direct.” 

To learn more about the wide range of resources the UKCC has to offer, visit its website here

The UKCC is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and has crisis/urgent availability by phone, 859-257-8701, outside of business hours, including evenings, weekends, holidays and university closings.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.