UML Expands Support, From Prevention to Intervention

Students paint kindness rocks in the Serenity Center on a Wellness Wednesday organized by graduate intern Shakira Fedna, who is sitting next to assistant director of student life and wellbeing Hannah Monbleau Image by K. Webster
Assistant Director of Student Life & Well-being Hannah Monbleau '21, center left, joins in a Wellness Wednesday activity led by public health graduate student Shakira Fedna '23, center right.

By Katharine Webster

Do you feel anxious about fitting in and making friends, or about your upcoming midterms? 
Are you stressed out by juggling your academic, work and family responsibilities? 
Are you caught in a downward spiral of depression?
Here at UMass Lowell, help is as close as your phone, your resident advisor, the Wellness Center, or one of hundreds of faculty, staff and fellow students trained in mental health first aid. 
And it’s free.
From wellness and prevention to crisis intervention, the university has resources to help you through tough times – and to meet you where you’re comfortable, whether that’s in person or online, through individual counseling or group therapy, and in a wide range of wellness and stress relief activities and programs.
In the past five years, UMass Lowell has increased its investment in mental health and wellness, including creating the Office of Student Life & Well-Being, adding telepsychiatry services for students who would benefit from medication and more than doubling the staff of mental health providers, says Deborah Edelman-Blank, director of Counseling Services.
To find the services and programs that might be right for you, check out this list.

Counseling and Crisis Intervention

  • Individual Counseling: If you have a mental health or substance use concern, you can get a first appointment with a mental health clinician at the Wellness Center either the same day or the next business day. Counseling Services now has Black, Latinx, South Asian, biracial, nonbinary and queer providers, with therapy available in English and Spanish. There is also a confidential resource provider for students who have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence or stalking
    Kindness rocks painted with hearts and art supplies for making them Image by K. Webster
    Kindness rocks painted by students at a Wellness Wednesday in the Serenity Center.
  • Telepsychiatry: Once you see a counselor, you can be evaluated online within a few days by a psychiatric provider who will assess your medication needs.
  • Counseling Referrals: If you have a condition that requires specialized treatment, such as a serious eating disorder, Counseling Services can help you find a specialist. Students can also use Welltrack Connect, a database that can help you find in-person or teletherapy services, based on your needs and your health insurance. 
  • Group Counseling: You can sign up for weekly group counseling sessions run by Counseling Services staff. Some are aimed at specific groups. This semester, there’s a group for students who identify as women and another for those who identify as LGBTQ+; next semester, a group is planned for students of color. Counseling services also offers couples counseling.
  • Student Assessment Response and Support (STARS): Any member of the university community who is concerned about a student’s mental, physical or academic health and safety can file a STARS report through an online form. A member of the university’s behavioral intervention team will reach out to the student in a timely manner; however, in an emergency, University Police should be called first at 978-934-4911. 
  • 24/7 On-Call Clinicians: The university offers a 24-hour telephone service at 855-890-2879, staffed by clinicians, for any student who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Family members, friends, faculty and staff with concerns about a student can call 855-890-2879, too. “They may have already saved some lives,” Edelman-Blank says.
  • University Police: For mental health emergencies, University Police can be reached 24/7 at 978-934-4911. 

Wellness and Stress Relief

  • Peer Well-Being Leaders: Each college has two well-being leaders – fellow students who are trained in the eight dimensions of wellness, including physical, mental and financial fitness. They provide resources and tips through individual appointments, workshops and events. They also post wellness tips on Instagram @umlwellbeing and write a Well-Being Blog.
    Nidi Patel, Valentina Munoz and Gloria Pierre paint kindness rocks in the Serenity Center while Doa Jamal studies Image by K. Webster
    Nidhi Patel, Valentina Munoz and Gloria Pierre paint "kindness rocks" while Doa Jamal studies in the Serenity Center.
  • Manual Care: This new, online health and personal development resource is geared toward students who identify as men, but anyone can use it, says Ruben Sança, director of Student Life & Well-Being. Manual Care features short, evidence-based videos on topics including drinking habits, fitness, happiness, mental health, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and work, and it connects students with university resources. “A lot of men don’t like to seek help because there’s a stigma,” Sança says. “We’re giving them tools to improve themselves and the resources to go deeper if they want to.”
  • Wellness Wednesdays and the Serenity Center: Put your worries aside and join other students in a stress-relieving activity – from aromatherapy to playing with therapy dogs – in the Serenity Center at University Crossing, every Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. The center is also open as a relaxation and wellness space from 9 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. on weekdays. Fidget toys are free!
  • Student Life & Well-Being Website: The website includes university resources and programs to address each dimension of wellness, including a calendar of events that includes yoga and fitness classes and drop-in meetings with counselors at the Asian American Center for Excellence & Engagement.
  • Spiritual Health: This is where you can find UML’s religious ministries, student organizations and campus meditation and prayer spaces. 

Support, Prevention and Education

  • Mental Health First Aid Training: The university is offering 12 free trainings on mental health first aid this year to students, faculty, staff and students’ families. More than 700 members of the campus community – including all residence advisors – have been trained since 2019. “We want everybody to recognize the symptoms of a mental health crisis, know what resources to share and know how to start the conversation,” says Melissa Wall, director of Prevention & Education. 
    Chi Anuken relaxes on a beanbag chair while studying for a nutrition exam Image by K. Webster
    Junior public health major Chi Anuken relaxes in the Serenity Center while studying for a nutrition exam.
  • Campus Advocates for Prevention Education, or CAPEs: These students are trained to go to classrooms, clubs and campus events to talk about mental health, substance use and sexual violence prevention. They also can meet with students one-on-one by appointment or during “office hours” in the libraries and with staff from:
  • ULifeline: This online platform has information on a range of mental health issues, and it includes some screening tools. If you’re wondering, “Is this just normal worrying, or do I have anxiety?” or “Am I just sad, or do I have depression?” — this is a good place to start, Wall says.
  • Togetherall: This is a safe, online community where you can anonymously share your feelings with other people and get support 24/7. Licensed mental health providers known as “wall guides” reach out proactively to offer support and evaluation to anyone with concerning signs of depression, anxiety, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, and they can connect students with an on-call clinician or UML emergency services when needed. 
  • Faculty Mental Health Advocates: One or two faculty members in each college are trained to share resources with students and other faculty, including information on how to recognize signs of a mental health crisis and ways to support students.
  • UMatter2 Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention: UMass Lowell is a JED Campus alumnus that embraces a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. Students share mental health and wellness tips on Instagram @umatter2uml, and faculty are encouraged to include information about mental health resources in their course syllabi. A link to mental health resources is also included in the Blackboard online learning system for every class.