In the summer of 2016, Nadiya Tucker began serving Penn State World Campus students in her role as mental health advocate and case manager, a newly developed position created through a partnership between Penn State World Campus and University Park Counseling and Psychological Services.
We asked her to share insights about the valuable services she provides to students, and give a few examples of her experiences on the job so far.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Prior to coming to Penn State World Campus, I was the mental health outreach coordinator for Penn State Altoona. I was responsible for mental health program planning, facilitating a referral system for students displaying signs of distress, and co-chairing a mental health advisory board. In addition, I provided counseling and case management services for students. I am a social worker by profession, and I am licensed in the state of Pennsylvania.
What services do you offer to Penn State World Campus students?
Services offered to Penn State World Campus students include case management, community resource referrals, consultations, mental health topic training, and mental health screenings, to name a few.
Can you give a few examples of the type of issues that students can contact you about?
So far this semester, I’ve been contacted by students who are experiencing relationship difficulties, students who suspect that they may have a mental health diagnosis, students experiencing burnout as the result of being the sole caregiver for an ill loved one, and students seeking counseling services in their localities.
How does the process work? Do you generally work with Penn State World Campus students over the phone?
Typically, when a student determines that they may be in need of mental health services, they email me directly or call the main CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) line at 814-863-0395 and identify themselves as a World Campus student, after which they will be redirected to me. Sessions usually occur via phone, although a video conferencing option is also available for students through Zoom.
It’s important that students are made aware of the strict confidentiality practices that you follow, due to the sensitive issues involved. Is there anything you would like to tell students who may be hesitant to reach out?
Everything I discuss with students is confidential and cannot be shared with friends, family, or others. Exceptions may exist in incidents of harm to self, harm to others, and child abuse.
This is a newly developed position, so I’m guessing it may still be evolving. Do you have any plans/ideas for how it might grow or change in the future?
This year we are providing the services listed above. I hope that my work with Penn State World Campus students continues to inform the direction this position will take. I came with this vision and I am hoping it will be effective, but I am also hoping to discover things along the way to make that vision even better. I am an open book!
Some thoughts along these lines include having monthly mental health chats with students, perhaps at some point offering counseling for students experiencing low-risk distress, and engaging student groups, such as Active Minds, to be at the forefront in the mental health awareness movement.
Are there any surprises you can share from your first two months in this role?
No surprises yet! Everyone that I speak with on the Penn State World Campus team expresses how much of a need there is for mental health services with this student population. It’s reassuring to know that we now have tools to meet those needs.
Note: Penn State World Campus students or faculty/staff who need assistance related to mental health issues can contact Nadiya Tucker or other staff at Counseling and Psychological Services by calling 814-863-0395.