The four most common reasons students use the University Counseling Center (UCC) are anxiety, depression, relationship troubles and stress, according to UCC director Christine Conway.
The counseling center in St. Liam Hall saw about 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students last year for 13,137 appointments, Conway said. Nearly one-third of the graduating class of 2023 visited the counseling center at some point during their time at Notre Dame.
“People use us,” Conway said.
The UCC is one of four departments within the health and wellness unit of Student Affairs. The other three are University Health Services (UHS), the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being (McWell) and the Center for Student Support and Care. Conway said the Center for Student Support and Care is divided into two offices: Sara Bea Accessibility Services and the Care and Wellness Consultants.
“There are so many resources at Notre Dame, and so it’s sort of hard to know where is the right place to go,” Conway said.
The UCC is tasked with providing treatment for mental health issues, Conway explained. It offers self-help resources and counseling services, including 24/7 crisis intervention, group counseling, psychiatric services, drop-in appointments and more.
Junior Kenna Bonde said she is familiar with the UCC because her friends often use it, and she visited it once during her freshman year.
The 2,000 Notre Dame graduate students and undergraduates who went to the UCC in the last year added up to around 17% of all students. Bonde said the percentage seemed small in her opinion. Bonde added she didn’t think the University’s resources for students with mental health issues were effective because they had never helped her in any way.
“I feel like a lot of students here struggle with imposter syndrome, and their well-being is just really bad,” Bonde said. “So, I feel like [the resources] are not very effective.”
Anna Kierski, a junior, said the percentage of students in the graduating class of 2023 who used the UCC at least once while pursuing their degree seemed large because only two of her friends have ever mentioned going to the counseling center. The University’s sense of community helps combat the mental health issues that accompany a high-pressure academic environment, Kierski said.
“Compared to my friends back home who go to these big state schools like UNC or just other very prestigious colleges, I’d say I think we are doing a good job,” she said.
The UCC offers drop-in hours at its office on the third floor of St. Liam Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays this semester.
Conway said the service allows students to have quick access to the counseling center. Following a drop-in appointment, getting matched with an individual therapist or group program might take some time, she added.
“But there is a touch point. There is some discussion about what will help,” Conway said.
According to Conway, the counseling center will continue to provide more opportunities for group counseling because students say they’ve really benefited from the insight they’ve receive from peers in group. Conway explained group counseling is especially productive for students who approach the UCC because they don’t have many friends.
“I think sometimes people view group as a less-than compared with individual therapy, and that’s not what we’ve been finding,” she said.
Henry Garrity, a freshman, said he receives a fair number of emails about University mental health resources. Garrity has not yet visited the UCC, he added.
“I think if a student ever came to the point where they needed something, they would feel confident to know how to access information about those centers,” Garrity said.