Our path to wellbeing
Over the last couple of months, concerns have been raised regarding UTSA’s efforts to promote wellness and provide access to mental health services. I’ve heard these legitimate criticisms from many corners and know that we can do better on this front. I believe wholeheartedly that the cultivation of student wellness is one of the greatest and most urgent priorities on our campus, as it is for campuses across the nation.
While this email contains important updates on actions we have taken over the last year and since launching UTSA’s Enriching Campus Wellbeing Initiative last month, we have much work ahead to address the urgent mental health needs on our campus. Nothing can erase the deep impact of losing our student Cesar Caballero to suicide last December, but in the wake of this tragedy we can channel our energies into making UTSA a better university.
The wellbeing initiative builds on work done by UTSA’s Well-Being Coalition and reflects feedback received from students, faculty and staff over the last year, particularly from my President’s Student Advisory Council. Some of the steps we have already taken include:
- Adding three new staff positions in Counseling and Mental Health Services. In addition, we will be adding three more counselors as soon as possible, and will assess further staffing and services needs going forward.
- Planning for additional mental health services and support—in the near term and beyond—following our recently completed holistic external review of Student Health Services and Counseling & Mental Health Services. Provost Kimberly Espy will update our community on the results of the review soon.
- Adding new residential Academic Peer Coaches, individual coaching sessions, workshops and residence hall programming to foster resilience skills and manage stress.
- Restructuring the Division of Student Affairs to integrate the student experience in—and out of—the classroom, and to create a stronger link between academics and wellness. The units that focus on student development, health, counseling and wellness were aligned under Academic Affairs. Our wellbeing initiative, led by Vice Provost for Student Success Tammy Wyatt, complements this reorganization.
I thank everyone who participated in the recent campus forums to gather feedback regarding the wellbeing initiative. The input from the forums and from my conversations with students made me realize that it is important for me to update you directly and to do so more frequently.
Moving forward, you can expect the wellness initiative steering committee to send an update soon regarding the forum outcomes and plans to implement some of the recommendations raised later this spring. They will also share information regarding the initiative subcommittees—comprised of students, staff and faculty—which will tackle our highest priority needs on campus.
There are other upcoming opportunities to get more involved and informed. On Tuesday, March 3, UTSA will hold a Wellbeing Fair from 2-5 p.m. in the Paseo, as well as an opportunity for students to participate in a wellbeing focus group from 3-5 p.m. in the Mesquite Room of the Student Union.
I also want to remind you all that we have a crisis helpline for students available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 210-458-4140 (option 3) if you ever feel you are in danger of self-harm.
Finally, please know that our entire university leadership team is committed to developing and enriching a culture of wellbeing at UTSA. We are listening and taking action. If you have ideas to share or are interested in getting involved, please reach out to the steering committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.