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UNT CARE Team acts as “catch all” support system for students

UNT CARE Team acts as “catch all” support system for students

UNT CARE Team acts as “catch all” support system for students
November 17
12:44 2018

Editor’s Note: Source “Mitchi” requested her full name to not be disclosed and, therefore, will be referred to by a pseudonym in the story.

College can be rough, and on top of other issues life throws at people, things can get overwhelming. When those things start to interfere with school, UNT has a team of advocates called the CARE Team ready to assist students in any way they can.

“We look at our office as the ‘catch-all’ for student issues [when] students don’t know where to go [when] they need help and somebody needs to be there for them,” said Dean of Students Chair Maureen McGuinness.

Whether a student is struggling with mental health issues such as depression, finances, family emergencies, medical issues or any other issue that may affect their schooling, the CARE Team provides a support system for that student.

“Our goal is to keep students enrolled and to get students to walk across the stage,” McGuinness said.

The CARE Team was founded in 2008 following the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007.

“Behavior intervention teams [popped] up all around the U.S. in every institution of higher education,” McGuinness said. “We wanted to wrap our arms around the students and show them we care.”

Whether the student was a threat to themselves or the people they were surrounded by, McGuinness said the team is a there to protect and help both situations.

“If they were struggling with mental health issues or were threats to themselves, we were going to take care of them,” McGuinness said. “If we had somebody that was a threat to others, we were going to take care of the rest of our community, so we decided to call ourselves the CARE Team.”

During the 2008-2009 school year, the department had 11 referrals. In the 2017-2018 school year, that number increased to 672.

Biology senior “Mitchi” found the UNT CARE Team at a point when she struggled to find a place that could give her guidance, mainly for her mental health.

“I came across the UNT CARE Team when I was feeling really, really suicidal,” Mitchi said. “I was looking for something to help me because I didn’t really know where else to go. I started kind of doing research one night when I was feeling my worst, and I walked in the next day.”

While it can be intimidating walking into an office to seek help, Mitchi feels that the process was simple.

“I walked in [the Dean of Students office] and I asked to see a CARE Team representative,” Mitchi said. “The front desk didn’t ask why or ask me any questions. [They] went back and got the person I needed. I sat down with [representative Rodney Mitchell] before he passed away.”

Mitchi said Mitchell walked her through the process and helped her navigate through counseling.

The UNT Care Team is made up of representatives from various services around campus. The team helps students with extreme circumstances during the semester. Paige Bruneman

“He had a candid interview with me, asked me what was wrong, what could the Dean of Students do to help today and within the hour, they pulled me out of classes for the day and they walked me over to counseling and testing services,” Mitchi said. “They took care of everything for me, even beyond the day I was feeling my worse. It was really comforting to go through the process and know that someone was actively there and watching out for me.”

After her initial visit, Mitchi had a few follow-ups with the CARE Team and received the help she needed. While she still has to work with her depression, she feels the CARE Team helped set her on the right path. No matter how large or small the problem may seem to be, Mitchi encourages those having a hard time to seek out the help they need, even if it isn’t related to mental health.

“It doesn’t have to be any degree of seriousness for them to intervene,” Mitchi said. “Go seek out help and you might find ways that you may not even know you need help in. They’re here for you, not against you.”

Elementary music education senior Andy Rodriguez only recently learned of the CARE Team and the services it provides.

“It’s great, especially because when someone loses a family member, or a house due to a fire or any sort of disaster that may happen,” Rodriguez said. “It’s good that there’s someone who is a support system. I actually had no idea that [the CARE Team] was a thing at UNT.”

“A lot of people are afraid to ask for professional help, especially when it’s something personal,” Rodriguez said. “For someone to say ‘Hey, I can help you. You just need to reach out,’ and for [students] to reach out to those people and actually want the help is incredible. If it’s there and readily available, then that’s super cool to have that team there.”

For those unsure of how to reach the CARE Team, information is available on UNT’s website or students’ MyUNT account. Students can reach out themselves or be referred to the team by professors or other students.

Featured Image: Courtesy Student Affairs

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Rebecca Najera

Rebecca Najera

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