UI Student Support and Crisis Line successful in first year

Since the UI’s Student Support and Crisis Line launched a year ago, it has supported hundreds of students with their mental health struggles via text, phone call, and online chat.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Photo Illustration by Daniel McGregor-Huyer.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s 24/7 toll-free Student Support and Crisis Line has responded to hundreds of students who reached out via text, phone, and online chat since its launch in October 2021.

The crisis line recorded 382 student communications since its launch last year and referred 54 students to additional UI mental health services, said Holly Davis, University Counseling Services clinical director.

The crisis line is toll-free and open 24/7. Students can visit the crisis line website to chat with a counselor online via Iowa Crisis Chat, or they can call or text (844)-461-5420 to speak or message a counselor.

Davis said the Student Support and Crisis Line was created to help students struggling with mental health at any time.

“It could be the middle of the night and you’re struggling with something related to your emotional wellness or mental health and needing some support, and we wanted it to be that type of resource,” Davis said.

The crisis line is open to not only undergraduate students, but also graduate, professional, and postdoc students as well, Davis said.

“We really wanted to make sure that we include those communities — particularly our postdocs. They’re not quite staff and faculty, and they’re not quite students,” Davis said.

So far, Davis said the line has been running smoothly and there’s been no need for any major changes or updates yet.

UI Director of student care and assistance Nikki Hodous wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that students can seek follow-up support from University Counseling Service or Student Care and Assistance. With a student’s permission, they can choose what information they would like to share, Hodous wrote.

CommUnity Crisis Services staffs the crisis line. The organization is run by volunteers and offers services for Iowa City citizens struggling with emotional, food, and finance-related issues, according to its website.

CommUnity’s Crisis Helpline Director Ryan Dickson said the UI’s Student Support and Crisis Line has two counselors specifically dedicated to it, but CommUnity provides around 20 other counselors who answer multiple lines — including the UI’s crisis line.

Each counselor receives 60 hours of suicide intervention and mental health support training, Dickson said. Each counselor must also run through several roleplay scenarios to ensure they are ready to take actual calls. Once they start taking calls, they are monitored by a supervisor and receive real-time feedback while assisting the caller.

“There’s a lot of work they have to do before they can get on and continuing in services throughout the year,” Dickson said.

Dickson said helping even just one student is a major success for the line, and CommUnity is proud to assist Iowa City and UI community members.

“Not only have we been able to help students, we’ve been able to help concerned parents who find the number and call in and say ‘What can I do to help my child who’s struggling?’” Dickson said. “So, I think that’s been a surprise benefit. We’ve been glad to see parents calling in as well.”

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