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A first generation poster hangs in the TRiO Student Support Services office in Oregon Hall on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Ore. on October 11, 2021. The TRiO Student Support Services program is one of many important resources that offers academic, mental health and wellness resource advising on campus (Isaac Wasserman/ Emerald)

After 18 months of remote learning, the University of Oregon is welcoming students back to campus with counseling services to provide students with a plethora of resources and mental health services going into fall term. 

Some of University Counseling Services’ resources dedicated to student wellness include Counseling Services Outreach and Workshops, Crisis Support, Well-being Tools and COVID-19 Mental Health Resources

DuckNest is another campus resource focused on providing insight regarding eight dimensions of wellness — physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, financial, environmental and occupational. 

Oregon’s Higher Education Coordination Commission released its Task Force on Student Mental Health Support dissertation in 2018, which analyzed the impact that mental health disorders have on education. The commission found that “Oregon students are struggling with mental health more so than physical health,” and that “only 69% reported at least good emotional and mental health.”

Other resources that offer mental health support for students on campus include TRiO, a federally funded program providing specialized support for students that are low income, first generation or have documented disabilities, program director Tara Parrillo said. 

As a TRiO advisor, Parrillo said she recognizes the importance of providing mental health services to students. Parrillo said that while there’s a lot of mental health resources on campus, there’s not enough.

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TRiO Student Support Services program director, Tara Parrillo sits in her office in Oregon Hall on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Ore. on October 11, 2021. Parrillo says that the program aims to offer “wholistic advising.” “We want to be their advocates,” said Parrillo. The TRiO Student Support Services program is one of many important resources that offers academic, mental health and wellness advising on campus (Isaac Wasserman/ Emerald)

“Resources are always impacted in this area,” Parrillo said. “I think they’re more impacted than ever before since the pandemic.”

Parrillo cited University Counseling Service’s Let’s Talk initiative, a program which gives students 30-minute check-ins with counselors, as a great way for students who feel nervous about utilizing counseling resources to try them out in a low-pressure environment. 

UCS Assistant Director Mariko Lin said that the Let’s Talk program started in 2019 and has since focused on providing support for students who have marginalized identities by providing specialists for students to talk with. 

“One of our top values at our center is social justice,” Lin said. “This is an easy-access way to get care and support right away.” 

The Higher Education Coordination Commission found that mental health support systems in the state were stretched thin even before the pandemic. These times have been historically unprecedented and have thus placed more stress on an already burdened mental health care system, it reported. 

When the American Psychological Association announced that “we are living in a racism pandemic” as well as a medical pandemic, President Sandra Schullman recommendedways for those impacted to practice self-care by working to “connect with family, friends and other community support people” and “talk about your feelings.” 

UCS has specialized Black healing resources for Black students to utilize, along with Let’s Talk sessions and the Multicultural Center that aims to create community on campus. 

Students can get involved on campus by joining the Student Advisory Board, which helps amplify student voices within UCS by providing campus outreach and event planning for mental health awareness.

Lin spoke about the importance of sharing struggles with trusted people and building community.

“I want a community of care and support that they [students] can get from faculty and staff around campus or their friends,” Lin said. “It’s not just one person that you’re relying on, but a group.”

For students who may be struggling with mental wellness, Lin said, “Reach out to those that you feel most comfortable with and don’t forget, Counseling Services is here for you.”