Campus resource addresses mental health issues
The Counseling Center at UM helps maintain students’ mental health.
The Counseling Center, fully armed with a staff consisting of licensed mental health counselors, psychologists and social workers, encourages students at UM to seek help with any of their problems or concerns.
Recently, there has been a national rise in students seeking professional counseling, according to Vanessa Scaringi, an intern at the Counseling Center.
“There is a certain stigma about going into a Counseling Center and reaching out, but this is a time in our lives that is very challenging,” said Scaringi, who is working to obtain a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. “You can’t expect to go through it without any issues or asking someone for help.”
The Counseling Center offers several services to UM students, including individual or group counseling, career testing and counseling, crisis intervention, self-help brochures, learning disabilities assessment, psychiatric consultation, training and outreach. Among the list of benefits students can count on finding at the Counseling Center include the promise of confidentiality, except in life-threatening circumstances, and no charge for any of the services offered.
To make an appointment at the Counseling Center, call 305-284-5511 or stop by the office located at the Center for Student Services at 5600 George Merrick Dr. Bldg., 21-R. During the fall and spring semester the center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Counseling Center Outreach Peer Education (COPE)
The Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE) group is the center’s main outreach program. It is comprised of students who serve as the liaison between the UM community and the Counseling Center. COPE is divided into three subgroups: Body Acceptance Resources and Education (BARE), Lifeguards, and Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Throughout the school year, the organizations host several events targeted to service students at UM, including “College Life Crash Course” for freshmen, “How to Avoid the Freshmen 15,” “Social Media and Mental Health,” and National Depression Screening Day.
Body Acceptance Resources and Education (BARE)
The Body Acceptance Resources and Education (BARE) group is a section of COPE geared toward promoting a positive body image and healthy lifestyle for mind, body, and spirit. The group promotes education about eating disorders, and works on several initiatives to prevent them. Throughout the past year, for example, BARE hosted events such as “No Fat Talk Week.” Throughout that week, students made a pledge to speak positively about their bodies and other people.
“I think negative body image is an inner thing in how we think about ourselves, but also media regulates this too,” said senior Alexis Milton, former chair of BARE. “The way media portrays people is a huge monster that we can’t stop since it’s all over magazines and TV. What we need to now focus on is trying to get our minds right and take in all the images but throw away the trash”
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, seek help by contacting the National Eating Disorder Association Hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
Lifeguards is an outreach program dedicated to preventing suicide and providing outreach, education, and training to the UM community. The members hold presentations and host fundraisers to raise money and spread awareness on the signs of suicidal and self-harming behaviors. There is also a group to help “suicide survivors,” or those who have experienced the loss of a loved one because of suicide.
In October, the group hosted Out of Darkness. The event consisted of a 3.1-mile walk (5 km) walk around campus, in order to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. More than 700 people participated in order to spread awareness on the issue, and demonstrated support for friends and loved ones. The event raised a total of $31,997.54 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“In my town we dealt with a suicide epidemic,” junior Kaelyn Lynch said. “I saw how it affected friends and family members and you hear all about how it affects people, but it’s different when you see it happen to someone you know. This is something I feel very strongly about, and it’s letting people know there’s an outlet and there’s help.”
For those in need of immediate assistance, contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)
The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is comprised of graduate students who run a 24-hour telephone response line. The undergraduate students hosts activities throughout campus to promote awareness about domestic abuse and issues associated with other forms of violence.
In February, SART helped host the Clothesline Project. This event encouraged people to decorate T-shirts with messages about dating and domestic violence. The T-shirts were then displayed on the Green. The event aimed to promote conversation on topics associated with dating and domestic violence that generally remain unspoken.
“The events are a good way to bring up a topic that is pertinent to the student body,” junior Dina Dajani said. “It can happen to anyone. We’re trying to remove the taboo associated with talking about sexual assault and rape. We want people to talk openly about this, and not treat it like something you have to whisper.”
The SART’s telephone response line is available for both male and female students at the University of Miami throughout the academic year. The Counseling Center encourages students who have been sexually battered, assaulted or molested to speak to a trained volunteer about it anonymously via telephone. The phone line services students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To contact SART, call 305-798-6666.
This article originally appeared in The Miami Hurricane on April 2, 2012.