UNK Counseling Thankful For ‘Life-Saving’ Support during One Day For UNK

UNK Student Health and Counseling Associate Director Kiphany Hof, right, talks to a student in the UNK’s Student Health and Counseling office.

Kiphany Hof and the student health and counseling team at the University of Nebraska at Kearney have a singular goal — to help each student stay healthy in mind and body.

For the UNK counseling team, that means providing quality mental health to each student enrolled at UNK. Services range from offering support to students who are having a difficult time adjusting to college to assisting students with diagnosable mental health disorders.

“We really kind of specialize in what’s going on with students who are in college or this age group,” Hof, associate director of student health and counseling, said. “A lot of our work is done in and around anxiety and depression, academic distress, relationships and eating disorders. Those are some of the common things that we see.”

Hof said research has shown that this new generation of students — raised in a world where constant connection, social media and screen time have become the norm — are reporting the worst mental health symptoms seen in decades.

That, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated those issues and the need for mental health services. The pandemic forced universities to transition to online counseling and telehealth services, sometimes leading counseling resources for students to become even harder to obtain.

“There are a lot of universities that were not able to keep up with the demand for counseling services, so they went into a major waitlist,” Hof said.

While UNK’s counseling team never found themselves in that position, Hof said she knew this generation of students’ connection to social media meant many did their mental health research online.

“We’re seeing that some of the information students are getting about mental health from social media platforms is not exactly accurate,” she said. “We don’t necessarily want them always getting their information from TikTok, but we also know that’s the kind of place where students turn to for support.”

Hof found a solution to this problem through Togetherall — an online service that combines the community found in a social media platform with the mental health resources needed to reach a new generation of students.

The platform provides students with a community at their fingertips to connect at any time. Students can anonymously share posts, read blogs and even talk with licensed mental health professionals.

“It’s a nice way for students if the counseling center isn’t open when they’re struggling,” she said. “They can hop on Togetherall and get some support.”

Thanks to the gifts made to the UNK Student Health Fund during One Day For UNK, Hof and the UNK Counseling Center were able to implement Togetherall campuswide in 2022. That fall, 250 students enrolled in the service.

Of those students, nearly half said they were not currently seeing a professional mental health counselor. Nearly one-third of enrolled students had a 1:1 interaction with a Togetherall clinician. Those results show that this additional resource has been a critical tool for students.

Hof said the gifts provided from donors to help fund resources like this aren’t just beneficial to students. They’re lifesaving.

“Their donation is actually helping save students’ lives, because so many students are having significant thoughts of suicide and feeling alone,” she said. “It may be that, because of their donations, we could buy this service that is helping somebody not take their life in that moment. I honestly believe that’s true.”

You can support the UNK Student Health Fund and countless other programs and student organizations during One Day for UNK on Oct. 5-6. This 24-hour giving day provides anybody from longtime supporters to recent graduates with an opportunity to positively impact the University of Nebraska at Kearney and its students.

During One Day for UNK, you will have the chance to make an impactful gift that benefits a variety of different areas on campus, including the following:

  • UNK’s three colleges
  • Scholarships
  • Loper Athletics
  • Student organizations
  • Vital programs

Visit givingday.unk.edu today to make your gift and help us make this year’s One Day for UNK our biggest, most impactful year yet.

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