Amid student mental health challenges, Rochester broadens outreach and access – University of Rochester

October 26, 2021

Started in 2018, the Mindful University Project is an interdisciplinary collaboration working to build a campus culture of mindful presence and compassion. The project is among several programs and services in place at Rochester to support student mental health and wellness. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Peer counseling, mindful practice, therapy dogs, 24/7 care—supporting the well-being and mental health of college students at Rochester takes many forms.

Complete the student mental health questionnaire

The University Coalition on Student Mental Health and Wellness is surveying all University of Rochester students—undergraduate and graduate—to gather information about the mental health of college students. The data will be used to make recommendations to President Sarah Mangelsdorf about ways the University community can work to improve student well-being.

Content warning: This article discusses suicide. If you need help for yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Everything hit Karenrose Kamala ’24 at once last fall. The stress. The anxiety. The feeling that she didn’t belong in college.

“I was taking classes online back home in Tanzania due to COVID-19, and it was incredibly difficult,” she says. “My sleep schedule was off the rails, and I found it hard to connect to whatever was going on around campus. One economics class was really challenging, and I worried that economics wasn’t for me. I felt very discouraged.”

A classmate mentioned UR Connected, a peer-to-peer network run by University Health Service. It pairs University of Rochester students who are feeling distressed with an undergraduate or graduate student who has received specialized training in how to support students who may be struggling. The students meet to discuss the issues, and the coach then directs the student to one of the University’s appropriate mental health resources.

“My peer coach made me feel validated when it came to my academic capabilities,” says Kamala, an economics and data science double major. “The resources I learned about were incredibly valuable, and the program helped me feel more comfortable about speaking out when I’m struggling. That’s a big deal, because coming from an African background, speaking out when struggling is seen as taboo.”

UR Connected was so impactful that Kamala is now a peer coach in the program, helping others overcome the kinds of stress and anxiety the sophomore felt …….


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