Tufts’ Counseling and Mental Health Services is now offering an online appointment scheduling system, has student Mental Health Representatives and is hosting a mental health and wellbeing fair on Monday as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Julie Jampel, director of training at CMHS, said that the launch of the new appointment scheduling system has been positive and that students have been taking advantage of the option.
“It’s been busy,” Jampel said. “It’s definitely being used.”
Online appointment scheduling had been in place previously for the Ask a Counselor service, which are informal 15-minute telephone consultations that can be used to quickly talk through an issue or determine whether therapy might be right for a student. Now, the online system is available for all appointments, individual counseling included.
This is also the first year since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 that CMHS is again offering in-person appointments.
“We’re excited for the new school year and returning to in-person appointments and having that as an option again,” Jampel said.
The Zoom option remains available and is popular among students.
“We’re now getting back into in-person appointments and students are requesting that,” Jampel said. “They’re also requesting a lot of Zoom appointments because that’s convenient and works for people for other reasons.”
This year, CMHS is also making use of the Mental Health Reps to increase student outreach and programming. The Mental Health Reps were established last year, but especially with COVID-19 preventing some in-person action last year, they’re still a new group on campus. The Mental Health Reps serve as a liaison between CMHS and the student body.
“The Mental Health Reps work directly with CMHS staff to help advocate for mental health support, reduce stigma, and promote mental and emotional well-being,” Erica Schonman, mental health promotion specialist at CMHS, wrote in an email to the Daily.
The Mental Health Reps will be assisting with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fair that CMHS is hosting on Monday on the roof of Tisch Library. The fair will include booths from various departments to help students learn skills and resources to benefit mental health, as well as free food, therapy dogs and prizes.
Mental Health Awareness Week events will span all over Tufts’ campuses. Programming will include workshops and discussions, as well as yoga, meditation and journaling sessions.
Jed Quiaoit, a Mental Health Rep, said that their programming aims to increase the visibility of the many services CMHS offers.
“Believe it or not, only around 20% of students have actually used CMHS services,” Quiaoit, a sophomore, said.
He highlighted workshops with clubs and organizations on campus and collaboration with the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion centers as part of the Mental Health Reps’ work.
“[We want to] bring more discussion about mental health because obviously, Tufts is a very diverse student body, so maybe in some cultures it’s stigmatized, in some cultures it’s not normalized, so we want to bring forth the conversation,” Quiaoit said.
This year there are nine students in the group. Quiaoit was inspired to join because as a first-year last year, he said he wished he knew about CMHS earlier.
“Last year, … I was transitioning to campus, and I also identify as first-generation. … I didn’t know about CMHS until mid-spring semester,” Quiaoit said. “I wanted to … promote mental health awareness in a more personalized sense.”
Aside from these newer initiatives, CMHS is again offering its aforementioned Ask a Counselor and individual counseling services, as it does every year. CMHS also has a variety of counseling groups and workshops. The counseling groups include topics from loss to addiction to body positivity and meet weekly, with a required pre-meeting with a counselor. The workshops meet once or twice to discuss topics such as Black wellness, isolation as an international student or identifying as a multicultural/mixed race person. Workshops can be a good option for students who want to build community or may not be able to commit to individual counseling.
“Someone who’s attending a workshop doesn’t necessarily have to be there for every meeting, if there’s a series,” Jampel said. “If the workshop is an appropriate match, they just sign up to attend.”