You may be wondering what to do when you are feeling down or sad — especially after these feelings continue for longer periods of time. Maybe you are experiencing some anxiety in regard to making new friends, being comfortable within large groups of people, or getting ready for a test. Maybe you had an argument with your best friend, or you broke up with your significant other.
As an international student in the United States, maybe you are worried about your parents and family members in your home country. Maybe you are overwhelmed and stressed out by the many responsibilities you have. These responsibilities are important, and your feelings and emotions are just as important.
When we talk about wellness and mental well-being, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the stigma surrounding mental health. For many international students, your home countries may hold stigma or assumptions toward seeking help, limiting how, where and with whom you may talk to about your needs and challenges. Or you may be unsure of what wellness and mental well-being support really is, or what it may look like. You may have questions about where to obtain it, how it works, how much it costs, etc.
Talking about wellness and mental well-being can be difficult, but there are resources on our campus to provide you with support. The University of Texas at Austin has a Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) located on campus in the Student Services Building. Dr. Arna Erega, the diversity counselor and outreach specialist for international students — who was an international student herself for 14 years — answered some questions about mental health support at UT Austin.
What is mental health counseling?
In the simplest terms, mental health counseling is a relationship formed between the client and the counselor, where the two can confidentially talk about mental and emotional needs, relationship issues, life challenges, and anything else that the client wishes to talk about.
Who can get counseling, and how much does it cost?
Any UT student can get counseling from the CMHC. It is free!
Where can you get counseling or mental health support?
- At the Counseling and Mental Health Center, you can receive counseling in a form of a single session, which is a good fit when you need assistance with a very specific concern. Brief counseling can range from 3 to 8 sessions depending on the concern and complexity an individual may experience. There are various groups and workshops that provide a safe space to talk and learn coping skills. You can sign up for and access these services free of charge!
- Crisis Line
- Crisis Line is a 24/7 phone hotline you can call anytime, any day, to get assistance regarding your crisis. There is no charge for this service!
- Counselors in Academic Residence Program (CARE)
- CARE counselors provide support via individual sessions and workshops, free of charge. They are conveniently located within the colleges to reduce barriers for students looking for help.
- My Student Support Program is a confidential, real-time virtual counseling service for UT students. The support is available free of charge via chat and phone, 24/7 — and is also offered in multiple languages!
How do I get counseling?
Call the Counseling and Mental Health Center at 512-471-3515, Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. to speak with someone about scheduling an appointment.
Is there any help specifically intended for international students?
Yes! There are two groups for international students:
Far From Home is a discussion group that meets every Tuesday, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
The CPT, OPT, H1B: Discussion Group for International Students Figuring out Their Next Steps group meets on Fridays, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Come join us!
For any additional questions, feel free to reach out to Dr. Arna Erega at firstname.lastname@example.org.