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Increasing Mental Health Support for Howard Students

Nonclinical case management and counseling services are some resources available for students who need extra support.

students with arms around each other outside

Paris Adon, EdD, director of student services, just returned from a student’s dorm room. The student had been crying because he had fallen behind in his classes. Adon spent two hours talking with him.

It’s not an uncommon scene, Adon says. “There are several who were 4.0 students in high school, and they’re not now,” he points out, something that takes a lot of adjustment to accept. It can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression. Sometimes it’s caused by external factors: illness, family issues, relationship issues, or even misunderstanding with the professor. Other times it’s an undiagnosed disability. Or, it could be students having a difficult time adjusting to university pace.

Adon’s office handles disability support, military and veterans support, and nonclinical case management. Nonclinical case management is the area he’s working to build and hire. Students can reach out anytime they need assistance by calling 202-238-2420, from navigating the financial aid office to resolving overwhelming situations. The idea is to be an extra hand or voice for a student who might not understand how to handle a specific situation and could use someone more experienced to assist. Anything more clinical, he refers them to the HU Counseling Service

“Students are experiencing so much right now, and if you are and 18 or 19-year-old student coming to Howard, you might not know how to navigate the entire campus,” Adon explains.

His office will help students talk to various administrative offices to resolve billing inquiries and the like; they’ll also reach out to professors on behalf of students to discuss any concerning matters. They’ll also connect students experiencing similar situations to each other, walk them through unfamiliar territory, and even provide a shoulder to cry on. Adon says students always receive a follow-up call to ensure students are doing better or have received the help they needed.

In addition to providing individual support, the office offers group discussions on a number of topics (including relationships, bereavement, family, and so forth), lunch activities, and mindfulness activities.

Call 202-806-6870 for HU Counseling

HU Counseling Services

Call 202-238-2420 for Nonclinical Case Management

Student Support Services

For students who may benefit from more clinical counseling, the HU Counseling Service is available to provide therapy, group counseling, and refer students for evaluation.

“The need for mental health services has been on an upward trend,” says Kelechui Fluitt, PhD, a clinician with HU Counseling Service. While the service has been around for nearly 30 years, there’s been more activity among students since the pandemic, she notes.

However, students have always required mental support, whether it’s because they’re adjusting to a new environment and new city, new social settings, changes in relationships and family, anxiety around academics and exams, and so forth, she says. “We encourage students to reach out.”

Students can call the front desk at 202-806-6870 and be assigned to an intake clinician. That person gathers background information and asks questions about what brought the student in. The clinicians gather to discuss each intake individual – confidentially and anonymously – to decide the best course of action. The counseling center will see students up to eight consecutive weeks, and then those who might require more time can be referred to private clinicians that are covered by their Howard insurance for free or for a low cost. They will also assist in finding low-cost care for those using other insurance.

After hours, there is a crisis hotline students can call at 202-345-6709 after 4 p.m. Students, professors, and staff can also call on behalf of a student they may be concerned about.

“Some students may be in stress at the moment and need to process what’s happening, but some students might need short-term help. Some might need longer term,” Fluitt says. “We just want them to reach out so we can help with it.”