As a student, one may confront issues that affect his or her ability to succeed in both personal life and in the classroom. Often it can help to talk to a willing ear. Other times one may need more advanced help. Either way, Let’s Talk, a new collaboration between Indiana University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and several multicultural centers, has students covered with two new programs.
Beginning today, students can utilize the services of Let’s Talk Now and Let’s Keep Talking at five multicultural locations on campus—Asian Culture Center; First Nations Educational and Cultural Center; La Casa, Latino Cultural Center; Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center; and Office of International Services.
Let’s Talk Now is a free and confidential informal conversation with an emphasis on self-understanding and finding solutions to students’ problems, particularly those encountered by multicultural students. In addition to a walk-in conversation with a consultant, Let’s Talk Now connects students to other accessible campus resources, both informally and formally.
The second element to Let’s Talk is Let’s Keep Talking, for when students need more than a friendly chat. Professional counselors are available to meet and address more complex issues.
“Let’s Talk lowers barriers to counseling, especially for multicultural students who might be hesitant to seek it elsewhere,” said Dr. Nancy Stockton, CAPS Director. “This two-part program gives students an alternative to going to the Health Center itself, directing them to more convenient locations to chat informally—and possibly formally—about problems the students experience.”
Let’s Talk is loosely based on Cornell University and Gannett Health Services Counseling and Psychological Services’ program of the same name.
“This initiative is especially important for traditionally underserved student populations,” said Muhammad Saahir, CAPS counselor and program coordinator. “The services we now offer to our campus excite me as a clinician as we literally meet people where they are,” he said.
Counselors come from a variety of backgrounds, including Dr. Wei-Cheng (Wilson) Hsiao, a CAPS psychologist who is fluent in Mandarin. Hsiao is based in the Asian Culture Center and Office of International Services locations.
“Being an Asian and a former international student who is now an early career clinical psychologist, I am honored to have the opportunity to work with students to overcome their barriers—especially those which are cultural or language-related,” he said.
Additional formal counselors include Saahir, based in Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center and First Nations Educational and Cultural Center; Shelena Davis, based in Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center; and Luciana Guardini, an Argentina native based in Office of International Services and La Casa, Latino Cultural Center.
“Feeling connected to others is a key aspect in emotional healing. It helps us bounce back from adversity,” said Guardini. “Let’s Talk is a great opportunity to cultivate and strengthen connections between the students and CAPS services. This presence in the cultural houses will facilitate access to a safe and confidential space for students to build the connections needed to thrive and succeed.”
The diverse group of consultants which make up Let’s Talk Now come from the School of Education’s Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, rotating annually under the supervision of Dr. Paul Toth, a staff psychologist with CAPS.
“We are extremely excited to be part of this initiative,” said Mai-Lin Poon, Associate Director, International Student Life. “We hope students will utilize these free and confidential services to talk about a range of issues they may be facing; from homesickness to test anxiety. Services like these not only lower the physical accessibility barriers, but also demystify how the counseling process works.”
Expansion to other locations is in early stages. Current participating locations and hours are available at go.iu.edu/letstalk.