How do you make the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) feel accessible to all? How do you successfully create and open up a multitude of resources for wellness, particularly for students who’ve traditionally shied away from clinical care?
At UMass Amherst, one of the ways that work is happening through the CCPH W.E.B. Du Bois Diversity Fellowship. Now in its second year, the fellowship allows one to two post-graduate fellows to focus their counseling work on issues of race, social justice and diversity.
“Part of what this fellowship is intended to do is to allow CCPH to go into spaces, to connect with the underrepresented groups on this campus—cultural centers, living spaces, International Coffee Hour—and to make sure that we’re present and we’re available,” says Christopher Shanky, licensed independent clinical social worker for CCPH and coordinator of the W.E.B. DuBois Diversity Fellowship. “The idea is that formal counseling is really great, but there are multiple ways to be supportive to people.”
This year, the fellowship programming has been led by Stacey Lopez, who has a master's degree in social work, and Courtney Tucker, who has a doctorate degree in educational studies in science education science and master’s degree in social work. Lopez, who finished her time with CCPH in early January, and Tucker, who will continue in the fellowship through August 2018, have worked closely with the campus community to provide a mix of individual psychotherapy as well as on-campus events, workshops and support groups.
“One of the things we know is that our underrepresented students on campus are busy,” says Linda Scott, psychologist and interim co-director of CCPH. “They’re working, they’re on committees, they have no time. They may feel like they can’t take care of themselves because they have to choose.”
The fellowship’s offerings are intended to help with that, especially because the events typically take place outside of the counseling center’s traditional business hours.
“While most of us in CCPH are doing clinical work, these fellows have more freedom to do outreach on campus,” Scott says. “They have reached different populations that CCPH hasn’t been able to otherwise.”
The fellows have worked closely with groups across campus, including the International Programs Office, the Admissions Office, the Stonewall Center, residence halls, Upward Bound, and the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (better known as CMASS). Together, they’ve created or improved upon programming that brings CCPH’s services to the students and not the other way around.