New CMHC service available to students 24/7

Tori Duff, News reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the October 12 flipbook.

The Counseling and Mental Health Center will now provide 24/7 mental health counseling through a third-party chat and phone service with licensed professionals. 

My Student Support Program, an online counseling service, will provide students access to a 24/7 chat feature they can access through the CMHC website or the program’s app. According to last week’s announcement, Students can request a counselor of the same gender, sexuality or race and virtually meet within an hour, according to last week’s announcement. The program has counselors in 167 different countries who speak over 150 different languages, CMHC director Chris Brownson said. 

Students are first met with a program representative who is trained in mental health support but is not a licensed professional to assess their needs, Brownson said. Students can receive guidance from the initial contact and decide whether to then meet with a licensed professional.

“Sometimes, you’re struggling with something or you have some problems that you want to discuss or get a little bit of support,” Brownson said. “There’s various levels of training that do a great job at meeting students where they are.” 

Nimisha Jain, former president of the UT chapter of the National Mental Health Alliance, said having access to a counselor who speaks a student’s preferred language or shares a similar identity can help students feel more comfortable sharing their mental health concerns.

“If someone is an immigrant or knows multiple different languages, sometimes you have to translate what you’re originally trying to say,” Jain said. “You might not even be able to translate your full thoughts properly because you have to take a second.”

Caroline Thomas, a former co-director for the Mental Health Agency within Student Government, said that while the increase in crisis resources is a positive change, some students still want to see an increase in resources for long-term counseling.

“We’re increasing the number of short-term crisis resources, which is definitely a necessity, but it’s important that we are providing either on-campus resources for students to get long-term care or supporting them to find off-campus resources for long-term care,” Thomas said. 

Students will still have the option to meet with counselors at the CMHC, but only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Within the partnership, CMHC also offers a digital library of mental health resources to address student concerns, which can be found on the CMHC website.

Marketing junior Macie Simecek said more access to mental health resources is critical, especially during the pandemic.

CMHC first worked with My SSP in December 2020 to offer counseling to students taking virtual classes from out-of-state because licensing issues prohibited CMHC from providing counseling to students outside of Texas. 

“Our mental health issues don’t stop at 5 p.m.,” Simecek said. “It’s a really good idea that students, especially incoming freshmen and current freshmen, can have this resource to talk to a professional at any time because loneliness is more than ever during the pandemic.”