For students who may be looking for resources, help, or just someone to talk to in regards to emotional health, the campus offers assistance through University Counseling Services. Read more below.
UCS InformationUniversity Counseling Services "provides free and confidential personal counseling for emotional, career, and academic concerns", as well as workshops and small groups for students surrounding issues like time management, relationships issues, etc. The center attempts to provide referrals to off-campus resources for students who need or want longer term or more comprehensive forms of assistance.
Why Come to UCS?
Although there are a lot of great feelings that come with attending college, students often feel a mix of unfamiliar emotions when beginning their lives at a new school away from home and their high school friends and family. Feelings like stress, anxiety, depression, and confusion are very common for college students of all ages, and research has shown that, for whatever reason, UMBC students tend to experience these emotions at even higher rates than their academic peers. Pressure to succeed in classes, maintain ties with family, manage finances and independence, and fit in with peers can be a lot to handle, and having an outside, confidential perspective on issues you're dealing with is often extremely advantageous for students who are struggling with these types of challenges, and learning new tools and helpful practices for dealing with stress and anxiety is something that all professionals have to learn to do sometime throughout their life. Since college is also a time of accelerated personal and academic growth, students often struggle with maintaining a sense of identity and with making choices about their academics and the future. A counselor can help with all of these things, and since sessions at UMBC are free (it is not uncommon for one session to cost over $100.00 in the outside world), taking advantage of these services is definitely in the best interest of anyone who feels they might need them.
What UCS Offers
The center promises up to 12 free individual sessions for students with the career, academic, and emotional concerns, but students should be aware that the center possesses limited staff and is only able to address a select number of issues. Providers do an initial intake meeting with students to determine if they are able to meet a student's need within the number of allotted sessions, and either refer the student out to other providers or offer them campus-based services from there.In addition to individual sessions, UCS also offers group sessions for students who may feel uncomfortable going to sessions alone or who want to connect with other students who have similar concerns. Groups are confidential and usually consist of 5-8 students who meet weekly for an average of 1.5 hours. These sessions focus on issues from stress management to relationships and are facilitated with the guidance of a counseling center staff person (either a licensed counselor or graduate fellow).
UCS also provides career and vocational counseling, to help students make decisions about their majors and/or career paths. Sometimes the SII (Strong Interest Inventory) or the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) are used to help students identify their strengths and interests, and students are encouraged to brainstorm about their values, life goals, priorities, etc. in order to help them make decisions in this area. Students can also visit professionals in the Career Services Center in the Math Psych or the Shriver Center in the Public Policy building to take advantage of their career-related services.
In addition to counseling, UCS provides "Skills for Success Workshops" twice a semester. These workshops are open to the public and provide ways to learn techniques without setting up an appointment or even speaking directly with a counselor.Sessions are meant to provide students with information and skills for managing stress and time, in addition to other things.
How Do I Schedule An Appointment?
Walking in to the Counseling Center is one way to schedule an appointment, but for students who don't have the time or might feel uncomfortable doing this, you can always call the counseling center at 410-455-2472. The counseling center is located across from UHS, which is located on the bottom floor of Erickson Hall on the side that faces Harbor Hall/Center Road. UCS is located in the modular buildings that house Student Judicial Services and the Interfaith Center. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/counseling
What Happens if I Can't Get An Appointment With UCS for a Few Weeks?
Students should keep in mind that UCS is not their only option for counseling help while attending school. There are many free resources in the community that students can connect with (stop by the counseling center to ask for their resource sheets until we are able to put this information up on the website), and depending on the issue, students can get help on campus as well. For example, a student who is struggling with making a career choice could visit the career services center, or if a student was struggling with sexual identity issues, they might choose to attend a Freedom Alliance meeting to connect with students who share similar experiences. RA's (residential advisers) and community directors are a valuable resource for students who live on-campus, and the members of SGA's department of health and wellness are always willing to help students with health concerns (although since the members are students with no professional credentials, they could only offer a listening ear, personal suggestions, and anecdotal advice). The Women's Center is also a helpful resource in addition to the Mosaic Center and Student Support Services for those students with disabilities or academic concerns. Don't forget your advisers, professors, coaches, and other caring adults at UMBC. There are tons of people to help, listen, and understand. Remember that as alone as you may feel at times, you are most likely not the only person who's experienced what you're going through right now. We all need a little help from time to time - it's the strong who can ask for help and rise above their circumstances!
What Do I Do If I Need Help NOW?
Sometimes it can take a few days or weeks to get an initial appointment with the counseling center. If you need help immediately, be sure to clearly indicate that to the person at the front desk of the counseling center if you call or visit. They have on-call counselors ready to help those students with emergencies at all times. If it is after hours and the counseling center is not open, talk to an RA (if you are on-campus) or call 410-455-5555 to be connected to an on-call professional. Calling a hotline is another option for students as well, and a quick internet search will often give you the results you need (we plan to have this info up on our site shortly as well). Don't be embarrassed or hesitant to reach out to others in a situation that feels overwhelming or unbearable. Everyone goes through a hard time sometimes, and taking any actions or making decisions on your own when you are not feeling well is unwise. RA's and other professionals or students who work in student life or healthcare most often do so because they care about people and want to understand and help. Be willing to reach out and know that there are people who want to help.
What if I Don't Want My Parents to Find Out I've Received Counseling?
A general rule of thumb for all counseling sessions is that they are confidential unless the counselor feels like you are a threat to others or yourself. Since no payments or insurance information are needed for counseling sessions at UCS, family are not notified that you've visited the center unless an emergency arises.
I Feel Like My "Issues" Aren't That Bad. Is UCS Really for Me?
A good rule of thumb is that if an issue is bothering you, it's worth addressing. Counseling isn't just for people who've experience trauma or who are severely depressed. Many people often use counseling as a tool for self-discovery and as a way to get feedback on their decisions and world views, or as a way to learn coping mechanisms that will allow them to weather the inevitable challenges that come with adults and professional life. Stress-management is an important skill for everyone to learn, especially people who experience multiple demands regarding their time and resources (i.e. nearly every working adult). You invest time and energy into learning about your subjects in your classes to help you succeed in your chosen profession, so investing the same time and energy into learning about yourself (something that will have an even more profound effect on your performance in the future) is theoretically not that much of a leap. Since you have nothing to lose by giving counseling a try, (remember, it's free and confidential), it's arguably worth investigating. Counseling is not for everyone, but it can be helpful for a wide variety of people.