UT-Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center offers help for academic recovery

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The Counseling and Mental Health Center is encouraging students to go through academic recovery when they face setbacks in their studies by starting a six-week counseling group last Thursday.

Academic recovery is the process of bouncing back from an academic disappointment, said Katy Redd, associate director for prevention, development and media relations at the CMHC. 

“(An academic setback) is when things don’t go academically quite exactly like you envisioned,” Redd said. “It can be anything from getting a grade that you didn’t want to not performing as well in a test or a class, or maybe it’s not getting into the college that you envisioned or the graduate school that you thought that you wanted.” 

The counseling group focuses on the link between improving mental health and increased academic resilience rather than teaching academic or study skills, according to the CMHC website. 

According to data from the CMHC, 37 percent of the 6,312 students who went to the CMHC for help in 2016-2017 said academic concerns were one of the issues they were seeking help for.

Exercise science freshman Sanja Stojcic said she was frustrated at the beginning of the semester when she forgot to do a homework assignment because she was preoccupied with a test. 

“I just completely forgot to do it,” Stojcic said. “I wrote it down on my schedule, my calendar, on my to-do list and everything, and I still forgot to do it. What am I supposed to do — get it tattooed on my arm?”

Stojcic said that setback gave her a lot of uncertainty about the future. 

“It was the very beginning of the year …, and I was already forgetting to do homework,” Stojcic said. “What’s going to happen when I’m two months into school or when finals start hitting? What am I going to forget then?” 

Kathleen Mabley, director of marketing and communication at the Moody College of Communication, said when students come to their advisers stressed about academic failures, they are referred to the CMHC.

“Our academic advisers would refer students under stress to the Counseling and Mental Health Center on campus,” Mabley said in an email. 

Redd said sometimes one academic failure can cause a student to spiral.

“The premise of this group is to provide concrete skills to deal with the shock of academic failure and how that can be a shock to the system and affect your motivation, your ability to handle stress and your source of identity,” Redd said. 

Students can rely on friends and family for support, but that may not be the best option for every setback, Redd said. 

“There may be times when that’s not enough and when making a call to CMHC is best option,” Redd said. “When a student makes that call, there’s going to be a counselor on the phone who is going to help them figure out what the next step is and get them connected to the resource that will be most beneficial to them.”