UNK expands peer mental health support for students – UNK News


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JOIN THE ONLINE COMMUNITY TOGETHER

So much in the world right now is uncertain and challenging, but you don’t have to feel alone.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers a variety of services and resources that support student mental health, including a new online community where Lopers can express their feelings and connect with others who share similar experiences.

Togetherall is a virtual, peer-to-peer mental health and wellbeing support system available for free to anyone with a UNK email address. The website provides an anonymous, safe space for students around the world to communicate with each other and offer insight, advice and comfort.

“Often, students turn to social media to make connections, but those relationships aren’t always genuine,” said Kifani Hoff, associate director of counseling at UNK. “We really want to offer students a place where they can find meaningful connections and get accurate and useful information.”

Founded in 2007, Togetherall is currently available at more than 300 colleges and universities, with over 3 million students accessing the service. It is available to Lopers through a partnership between UNK Counseling and UNK Online.

Togetherall serves both on-campus students and those taking classes remotely. Employees can also create an anonymous account using their UNK email address.

The site has a variety of free tools and resources, all available 24/7.

Users can share and respond to posts, access articles and other resources, journal, set goals, self-assess, and express themselves creatively by adding a “brick” to the community wall. There are groups you can join – including student life, military, work-life balance and parents and carers – and the site allows people to search for specific topics such as anxiety, depression, recovery and relationships .

Togetherall is overseen by licensed mental health practitioners who are available to offer support and guidance. They also intervene if someone is considering self-harm or suicide.

In the midst of a national mental health crisis among high school and college students, Hoff wants Lopers to know it’s okay to seek help.

“There’s a huge number of students who are really hesitant to come to counseling,” she said. “By offering an anonymous resource like Togetherall, we hope to engage more students seeking mental health support.”



AMBASSADORS OF MENTAL HEALTH

Peer support is a key part of UNK’s efforts to promote student well-being.

UNK Counseling, Residence Life and the Office of Health Promotion recently launched a Mental Health Ambassador Program to provide an additional resource for students.

Through the program, about 20 resident assistants on campus completed eight hours of mental health first aid training to learn how to recognize and respond to a mental health crisis. RAs serve as the initial contact, providing support and guidance to fellow Lopers and, when necessary, refer students to professional counseling services on campus.

“We hope to expand this program so that more students or even faculty and staff can have this additional training,” said Hoff, who is also working with the Office of Health Promotion to start a Peer Wellness Coaches program on campus.

UNK CONSULTING SERVICES

UNK Counseling provides a range of professional mental health services, including individual, group and substance abuse counseling, crisis intervention, programming and counseling.

Full-time students may schedule up to three counseling sessions per semester, beyond the initial counseling, free of charge. Additional sessions are $10 each. Students who are not regularly enrolled are still eligible for counseling services, but there is a fee.

Counseling services are available by appointment only, unless there is an immediate threat to someone’s safety. Call 308-865-8248 or visit the Counseling Center in the Memorial Student Affairs Building, Room 144, to make an appointment. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.



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