UNL testing out in-dorm counselor

LINCOLN, Neb. According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is the top concern among college students followed by depression and relationship problems.

UNL is trying out a counselor-in-residence program at one of its most populated dorms.

The goal is to make mental health services easier and more accessible to students.

Abel-Sandoz residence hall has a new feature, an in-dorm counselor that’s available to students for unlimited sessions, free of charge.

Her door is open to students 20 hours a week into the evening and even on weekends.

“One of the things that I think is so beneficial about that is what we are really trying to do is to see a person who can offer that kind of help as a regular part of their living environment,” said Jake Johnson the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

While the university legally cannot say how many more students are getting mental health services, Abel-Sandoz does house about 1,500 predominantly first-year students.

Those who live in the building say knowing they have the option so close is a comfort.

“I think sometimes it’s hard to reach out and that makes it way easier to reach out and get the help that you need,” said Macie McGee who lives in the building.

“It’s such a big thing and people have been saying that we need more mental health resources and now they’ve providing them,” said Regan Gifford a UNL freshman.

It's part of an expanding mental health conversation taking shape at the university.

Johnson says over the past few years they have been working to be more proactive in the area.

"I think the real emphasis is to say it is normal to struggle, it is normal to feel anxious or depressed at certain times in your life and to experience the stress of college,” said Johnson. “But don't let that get in the way of being successful and achieving the goals, use the resources that exist on campus."

Following the success of the pilot program, UNL says it will be adding additional counselors in Harper-Schramm-Smith, Knoll Residential Center and University Suites next fall.

'We were really blessed to receive a grant from the Women Investing in Nebraska the WIND foundation to give us some extra funds to expand the pilot," said Johnson.