Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Students find support for social anxiety and loneliness through UT departments

Kuba Bard

Social isolation and loneliness is the fifth top reason that students seek care at UT’s Counseling and Mental Health Center. Several departments at UT are doing their best to provide support for students to find community.

Around 32% of students cited loneliness as their reason for going to the CMHC in 14,327 counseling sessions and 1,891 psychiatry sessions. Dr. Marla Craig, the Executive Director of the CMHC, said she thinks that loneliness and social isolation have always been present on campus.

“It’s a lot of stress,” Craig said. “We can imagine our students coming in … and all of the changes that are happening in their lives … And with all of that, their expectation of maybe meeting people … is anxiety provoking for many people.”

Denisse Montes, a human development and family sciences junior, said she felt out of place and lost during her freshman year. But she said that being an orientation advisor helped her find her people.

“I was a first-generation student … and also a woman in STEM,” Montes said. “So, I felt consistently out of place … because of the lack of access. The way I got out of it is I applied to be an orientation advisor with New Student Services … and I was able to foster a lot of connections during the summer with students.”

Montes is also a Bevo Buddy! Leader. Bevo Buddy! is a program that pairs incoming students with a University student leader to help new students transition smoothly to life on campus.

“My buddies had a smoother transition (than me) because they had someone to ask questions whether that was insight on-campus resources, extracurriculars or on social aspects of college,” Montes said.

Kayleigh Damphousse, assistant director for transition initiatives, said that coming to campus can feel overwhelming because of all the opportunities and things students are told to do.

“There is a lot of pressure on students,” Damphousse said. “Our role in New Student Services is to show them there are a lot of opportunities, but also to tell students to balance and prioritize. They don’t have to have all the answers right away.”

Ultimately, Damphousse said students should get involved and ask for help when they’re struggling. She also suggests visiting the NSS website for events happening this upcoming semester.

“A lot of people feel isolated and feel like they’re the only ones that feel that they’re the only ones that feel that way,” Damphousse said. “(But) there’s numerous campus resources and there’s someone rooting for students at every turn.”

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