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Sunday, September 24, 2023

GatorWell and the CWC help UF community with mental health

Summer events for GatorWell will occur during UF Preview and Great Gator Welcome while the CWC will host online therapy

<p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64b6d7ba-9799-0e0e-f3cf-e0107a9c99ef">UF health education senior Tala Rizkallah, 21, and UF communication sciences and disorders senior Michelle Saade, 21, check out health-oriented pins at the GatorWell table at the Freshman 15 Wellness Fair on the Plaza of the Americas on</span> <span id="docs-internal-guid-64b6d7ba-9799-0e0e-f3cf-e0107a9c99ef">Wednesday</span> <span id="docs-internal-guid-64b6d7ba-9799-0e0e-f3cf-e0107a9c99ef">afternoon.</span></p>

UF health education senior Tala Rizkallah, 21, and UF communication sciences and disorders senior Michelle Saade, 21, check out health-oriented pins at the GatorWell table at the Freshman 15 Wellness Fair on the Plaza of the Americas on Wednesday afternoon.

When Cassidy Roberts was a freshman at UF, the Student Health Care Center referred her to the Counseling Wellness Center and GatorWell. She said she felt overwhelmed by school and her personal life.

Now as a junior, Roberts reflects back on her two-year journey with the university’s mental health facilities and resources. Her advice, especially for freshmen in a similar position as her, has remained consistent through all the ups and downs of her college career: always reach out.

“Don't let the horror stories or the reviews scare you,” Roberts, a 20-year-old chemical engineering junior, said. “Reach out if you need help, because that's the most important part.”

UF provides free counseling, coaching, testing and crisis support among many services on campus. Students may reach out to the CWC for licensed counseling support focused on helping individuals work through mental health concerns and GatorWell for wellness and health coaching with an expertise in behavior change. 

GatorWell’s offices are located at Reitz Union, Jennings Hall and Springs Complex. GatorWell’s coaches and health educators provide time management and prioritization, stress management and mindfulness, sleep habits, study and test skills, social connection and holistic balance for optimal wellbeing to help students with their academic performance. 

“GatorWell was a really good resource that I don't think a lot of people use,” Roberts said. “They helped me address some different things like my study habits and my sleeping habits to kind of help curb some of my mental health issues.”

The GatorWell Health Hut travels across campus providing bi-weekly health messages, activities like a game testing stress management and skee-ball skills. It also gives out useful things such as chapstick, stress balls and condoms. 

Jennifer Kennymore, a health promotions specialist at GatorWell, encourages students to reach out to all of UF’s mental health facilities and resources.

“We have students that'll talk to their counselor about some mental health things they're working on and then they'll come and focus more on behavior change with their wellness coach,” Kennymore said.

The CWC has three locations: Peabody Hall for crisis and urgent walk-ins, Radio Road for counseling and workshops and Cypress Hall for scheduled appointments only. The Center boasts a diverse staff from about 20 countries, territories and states who speak about 15 languages and dialects. Staff include different races, genders, sexual orientations, social class backgrounds and world views. 

The Center provides brief consultations, online counseling for individuals and couples, and alcohol and drug services. This summer, online general therapy will be provided on select days until August 6, including video sessions on mindful living and coping skills, specialty events like coping with ADHD and peer support.

“I personally think that if you have never been to a therapist before, the CWC is a great place to start because they can help you find someone,” Robert’s said. 

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But after being referred to the CWC by the Student Health Care Center three times and receiving no calls back, Roberts had to look elsewhere for counseling. 

“When I've tried to reach out to CWC they've always just been too busy, too full,” Roberts said. “They just don't have room for people that aren't emergency cases.”

The CWC includes a 24/7 crisis hotline for students who are in immediate danger of hurting themselves, are distressed over a recent death or have experienced a sexual assault.

Like the CWC, GatorWell is focused on strategies to help students overcome stress and provides helpful resources. By doing so, GatorWell focuses on supporting students through prevention — taking a direct role in teaching students the skills and behaviors they need to maintain their wellness.

This summer, GatorWell will be attending UF Preview and the Great Gator Welcome, which starts June 27. These events are opportunities for freshmen to ask questions and discuss how GatorWell can help them with health and wellness. HIV testing and mindfulness sessions will also begin this summer. 

Contact Isabella Douglas at Follow her on Twitter @Ad_Scribendum. 

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Isabella Douglas

Isabella Douglas is a fourth-year journalism major and the Fall 2023 editor-in-chief for The Alligator. She has previously worked as the digital managing editor, metro editor, criminal justice reporter and as a news assistant. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR. 

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