Since 2020, the university’s Multicultural Health Program (MCHP) has provided a voice to UNC students of color. Entering another academic year, MCHP plans to continue supporting the university’s diverse campus life.
The program operates through the university’s primary student mental health service, Counseling and Psychological Services.
MCHP was started by CAPS after recognizing the need for culturally responsive mental health services for BIack, Indigenous and students of color.
Erinn Scott, assistant director of the program, says CAPS listened to student advocates in creating MCHP, and those same voices inspired her to take a leading role in the program.
“Students have been sending CAPS a message for a long time: ‘We need more diversity, we need more representation,’ but it reached a climax and we, the staff, couldn’t hear it,” he said. She said, “Student activism and advocacy have ignited our own passion and power.”
That passion and power lies in Scott and a team of four other providers, each with their own background and identity. According to Scott, connecting with a provider begins with regular initial assessments by CAPS, which works to match students with the right MCHP provider for him.
One of those donors is Susan Chang, a clinical social worker who has been in the program since December. As a member of the Asian-American community, Chung said she understands the difficulties of being a minority in a new place.
She said she believes college campuses are one such place.
“That’s when they’re trying to form their own identities,” Chung said. So I really want to be like a guide.”
For students, the idea of receiving instruction while in college is important. Junior Sai Somana has not used the program, but believes it is valuable to have a therapist who understands the experiences of students of color.
“I think that’s a good thing because I know I can talk to people with similar backgrounds regardless of my ethnicity or race,” Somana said. You will feel more comfortable without it, and I hope it will be the same for other students.”
In MCHP, treatment comes in many forms. The program offers a variety of services to meet student needs, including individual and group therapy.
According to Scott, group therapy often focuses on specific topics and other identities, such as exploring the intersection of identities as both people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She said these therapy options give students the opportunity to come to terms with their identities holistically.
“Some of what we incorporate into our traditional counseling sessions are tips and tricks for advocating, speaking up, and finding community,” says Scott. “Building community is a big part of what we do.”
Outside of treatment services, MCHP engages with students through outreach initiatives. The program has established liaisons with campus organizations such as Carolina housing, undergraduate and graduate schools, and several cultural centers.
Scott said these partnerships will give students more opportunities to discover MCHP and find the help they need.
“I want to help my students get through the door,” she said. may need to have the information.”
MCHP also hosts workshops on new topics each month. This spring, we held a series of workshops for Black, Indigenous, and Colored graduate students. These programs provided a forum for graduate students to discuss everything from building confidence during her time at UNC to maintaining healthy relationships.
For these efforts, MCHP received the UNC Diversity Award at the Intergroup Collaboration in 2021, just one year after its launch. This award recognizes groups and programs that bring together multiple perspectives to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
This year, the program aims to continue with new workshops. This fall, MCHP will address topics such as imposter syndrome, self-care, and access to mental health resources, Scott said.
Scott added that MCHP’s other goals include hosting more in-person events and adding a sixth member to the team to increase student access to care. .
The program aims to grow and evolve, but one message remains the same. “I really want them to know they’re not alone. We’re here for you.”
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