University Counseling Services offers new programs for students

University Counseling Services has started new programs such as Let’s Talk Hawks to encourage students to take advantage of their services and to have programs that are tailored to students’ needs.


David Harmantas

Westlawn Hall at the University of Iowa is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. Westlawn is the location of University Counseling Services.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

University Counseling Service has started new programs, including Let’s Talk Hawks, to encourage students to take advantage of the services and to have programs that are tailored to students’ needs.

Last year, the Counseling Service opened a new location in the University Capitol Center for students on the East Campus to have access to its services. The staff members have continued the expansion of services this year with Let’s Talk Hawks and other new programs.

Let’s Talk Hawks is new this semester, created to allow students to meet with a counselor and ask questions about mental health and counseling or discuss problems they may having.

This program is based on a similar one called Let’s Talk that originated at Cornell University and has since spread around the country, Counseling Service Director Barry Schreier said.

Dawn Bates, one of the embedded counselors on campus, said she started Let’s Talk programs at two other universities she worked at in the past and brought the idea to start Let’s Talk Hawks with her when she was hired a year ago.

The program allows students to anonymously stop in and briefly talk to a counselor about issues they might have, she said. The program takes place in the residence halls during the week to make the counselors accessible. The goal is to reduce the stigma behind mental health and counseling, Bates said.

“It’s such a good program and a different way for therapists to meet students and for students to learn about mental-health issues,” she said.

Let’s Talk Hawks takes place Tuesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. in Burge, Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. in Mayflower, and Thursdays from 4-5 p.m. in Petersen.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, first-year UI student Zora Sherman said encouraging students to go to a program such as Let’s Talk Hawks to ask questions about mental health might help them understand if they need help. It seems inviting and efficient through being able to stop when people have time to talk to someone, she said.

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“I think they are truly making an effort to make the counseling services available to everyone, including more flexible scheduling and anonymous meetings,” she said. “I think I will stop by the Counseling Service to check out some of the new programs it offers.”

Schreier said Let’s Talk Hawks is part of a bigger plan for the Counseling Service to provide different levels of care for students. The plan will give students options for how immediate their need for care is, he said.

In addition to Let’s Talk Hawks, the service has introduced curriculum groups that teach students skills for how to manage their stress or anxiety. The service offers three sessions that follow a lesson plan to teach students skills they may need, Schreier said.

It also introduced quick-access counseling for when students have an emergency and need to talk to someone that same day, as well as group therapy, which has created growth in the program. The Counseling Service is also getting ready for the third-annual Fresh Check Day, a free mental-health fair on Oct. 17.

“More students are seeing more opportunities for themselves to come in and get help,” Schreier said. “It’s not just one-size fits all.”