Dear graduate students,
The personal and professional health of our graduate students is of the highest priority and one of the primary imperatives included in the recently released Graduate School Strategic Plan. Here at the Graduate School, we are working to build more trusting, supportive and productive relationships between graduate students and those who support them at all levels of the graduate school experience.
Some of that work can be seen in our efforts to promote the Graduate School Advising Agreement, which strengthens and balances the relationship between advisors and advisees, and our peer mentorship program, which matches new graduate students with advanced graduate students to provide a more supportive and personalized introduction to graduate school.
Our Grad+ seminars help students set goals and maintain good writing and research habits while fostering relationships with peers across disciplines. Regardless of where you are in your graduate career, Grad+ provides a supportive community where you can discuss your challenges and receive training and resources from professionals and peers.
I know that it can be a challenge to prioritize physical and mental health while in graduate school, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. To this end, CU Boulder offers a variety of mental health and well-being resources for graduate students that range from drop-in sessions to help with the day-to-day stresses of academic life to ongoing focused support.
Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has therapists housed in the CAPS offices, as well as therapists embedded in all of the schools and colleges, including Stacy Gerberich, PsyD, who has an office in the Graduate School suite in the basement of the Regent Administrative Center. CAPS also hosts telehealth workshops that focus on helping graduate students develop coping skills to help them manage stress and anxiety. See the companion profile piece on Stacy Gerberich and her work focused on graduate students.
For students who feel the need to check in with a therapist sooner rather than later, all students have the option of accessing Let’s Talk, CU’s free, informal and confidential drop-in consultation services. Let’s Talk sessions are available in person and virtually.
CAPS also provides graduate student-specific group therapy called Process Therapy Groups. These groups are led by counseling professionals who understand the challenges inherent in being a graduate student. CAPS has general graduate student groups as well as groups focused more on students with specific identities, such as transgender, post-trauma and students of color.
Graduate students are eligible for a variety of CAPS services. Students who have the CU Gold insurance, which is an Anthem PPO plan, may choose to go to a local provider outside of the university. The co-pay for outpatient mental health services is $20 a session, and there is no limit on the number of covered sessions. The therapist-finder tool Thriving Campus is useful for finding an outside provider.
Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) has free and confidential advocate counselors who provide consultation, advocacy, support with navigation of resources, and trauma-informed short-term counseling for graduate students who have experienced a traumatic or life disruptive event recently or in the past. Reasons why graduate students seek out OVA services vary and can include experiences of discrimination, harassment, assault, partner abuse, sexual harassment and more. OVA’s services are available in person and virtually. OVA also offers brief confidential consultations with the Ask an Advocate hours.
In addition to CAPS and OVA services, Health and Wellness Services offers a wide variety of free workshops and programs to support student wellness. For example, Mindful Mondays assists students through active mindfulness lessons and exposure to existing resources on campus, while Wellness Wednesdays provides a space to engage in self-care activities and to build a campus community.
All of these measures are designed to create a sense of belonging among graduate students at CU Boulder and as a counterweight to the isolation and individual stress that so many graduate students report they feel. It is important that we build a culture of empathy, compassion and concern among graduate faculty, graduate advisors and all academic staff who work with graduate students.
Though there is always work to do in these areas, we have learned a lot from the pandemic and from our existing expertise on campus. Most of all, we've gained a tremendous amount of information from hearing the stories our graduate students and graduate student leaders shared with us.
My goal is that our work together will begin to transform these stories into experiences of success and support. In the meantime, please take advantage of these resources, and don’t hesitate to email us at the Graduate School.
Finally, I strongly recommend that all of us exercise a degree of self-care that includes some time away from your academic work—spending time with family and friends, getting outside, reading a book for pleasure or whatever allows you to relax and restore.
E. Scott Adler
Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs