The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities sits on the traditional homelands of the Dakota People. Student Counseling Services recognizes the original peoples of this place and acknowledges that it is impossible and harmful to talk about individual mental health without actively working to be in right relationships with the people and the land who have been and will continue to be here.
The land acknowledgement was developed in collaboration with the Circle of Indigenous Nations (COIN) at the University of Minnesota.
The Interconnectedness of Social Justice and Emotional Well Being:
At SCS, we recognize and acknowledge that emotional well being concerns are impacted by social forces in the world related to power and privilege, colonization, discrimination, stereotypes, bias, and all forms of marginalization and oppression. We identify that these forms of oppression are pervasive and institutionalized and often go unacknowledged. This lack of acknowledgement can leave impacted individuals and communities feeling alone, voiceless, and invalidated. Additionally, we identify the multiple ways in which the mental health field has harmed and, in some cases, continues to harm people from various marginalized identities.
Our staff and trainees actively work to address these forms of oppression in a culturally affirming manner and consider the impact of oppression for students who seek services at SCS. We continue to address this work from an empowerment and advocacy framework.
SCS Specific Diversity and Equity Initiatives
As we challenge ourselves and others to understand and promote diversity, we must communicate our openness to others, strive to understand their perspectives, and be willing to expand our receptivity to differences. We embrace the importance of honoring individual differences, which includes but is not limited to: race, ethnicity, language, national origin, religious and spiritual beliefs, gender, sexuality, physical and mental abilities, size and appearance, and socio-economic status. We believe that as we become increasingly attuned to and embrace the differences among us, we strengthen society, contribute to a more inclusive University community and provide a more just and affirmative practice of counseling and mental health.
Initiatives and Programs:
The SCS staff and trainees are committed to continuing our work of diversity and equity and here are some examples of the ways in which this work is being addressed.
Care Coordination/Resource Referrals Responsive to Student Identities: We at SCS want to provide students with the best services possible. For some students that may mean helping them get connected with outside providers. Our Care Coordinators work individually with students to help bridge care and connect them with other resources around the Twin Cities and beyond. This may include helping students get connected with providers with specialized training to meet their individual clinical needs/wants, who identify with particular cultural groups, and/or within specific geographical locations and limitations required by students.
Community-Based Collaborations: We at SCS embrace working collaboratively with campus partners, student organizations, and individual staff and faculty members. We know that taking a multidisciplinary approach for meeting the needs of students includes collaborating with campus partners; it also means supporting the important work that marginalized individuals are already doing.
Mental Health Collective of Black, Indigenous People and People of Color (BIPOC): The Diversity Liaison Counselor and other BIPOC staff and trainees partner with the Mental Health Collective of BIPOC. This is a cross-campus collaboration formed to create a radical healing space to foster conversations around the topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing in the BIPOC communities. The Mental Health Collective acknowledges that much of the current resources/services at the University of Minnesota fit within a traditional White western mental health framework, and it strives to disrupt that model. The Collective is open to students, faculty, and staff who self-identify as Black, Indigenous People and/or People of Color at the University.
Let’s Talk: Let’s Talk is a program that provides informal drop-in consultations at locations around campus for U of M students throughout the academic year. They offer free, confidential, drop-in services for students. Let’s Talk is not a substitute for formal counseling and does not constitute mental health treatment, but counselors can listen to specific problems, provide support, help explore solutions and give information about other resources.
Counseling Groups: We believe it is important to create spaces for students from underserved identities to directly name and explore messages related to their shared identities and how those messages impact their relationship to self and others. We offer support, process, and psychoeducation groups for students from various marginalized identities. Some of these groups include: Women’s Process Group, Understanding Self and Others for Queer and Questioning Students, International Student and Scholar Services Cross Cultural Discussions Group, and Chronic Condition and Pain Support Group.
Diversity Liaison Counselor: This counselor works to form relationships with students who have experienced more barriers to accessing traditional counseling services. They provide services that address the academic and emotional needs of students by facilitating workshops and consulting, in addition to providing individual and group counseling. They also spend time embedded within various university programs that support the success of first-generation and other underrepresented students. In addition, they collaborate with staff members in these programs with the goal of seamlessly integrating services.
Outreach and Partnerships: The clinical work at SCS is informed by the understanding that mental health concerns are impacted by pervasive and institutionalized systems of oppression and that meeting the needs of students must include outreach in addition to other clinical work. We believe that outreach aims to break down barriers that prevent marginalized and otherwise underserved students from accessing and seeking services. We aim to effectively navigate systems of power as we advocated for the rights of our clients regarding discrimination and forms of oppression through preventative services, educational programs, and outreach presentations. Additionally, SCS staff and trainees identify the importance of creating partnerships with campus partners to better meet the needs of our campus community. A partnership or liasonship is a working relationship between an SCS staff member or trainee with a campus partner to collaborate on projects to serve the campus community.
- Continuing Education for Staff and Trainee: Institutional support and commitment to ongoing staff and trainee development related to diversity, equity and inclusion through professional development seminars, staff retreats, and other formal training opportunities. Examples of past training sessions and retreats for SCS staff and trainees include: the White Supremacy Model, White Fragility, and Helping Students on the Spectrum Thrive.
Cultural Connections: Staff and trainees at SCS value the importance of understanding each other, and the different cultural lenses and contexts we bring into the workplace. We hold monthly meetings to share our cultures with each other, recognizing the connection between who we are as people and the work we do.
Diversity and Equity Workgroup (DEW) Committee: The DEW Committee is an internal workgroup that is focused on coordinating diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within Student Counseling Services. The workgroup is composed of SCS senior staff and trainees who meet monthly to develop organization-wide diversity and inclusion changes, trainings, policies, practices, and evaluations.
International Student Academic Integration (ISAI) Grant Recipient for Student Academic Success Services (SASS; Spring 2019): The SASS team received the ISAI grant and allowed them to review course curriculum and adjust opportunities to improve the relationship between domestic and international students.
Multiculural Case Consultation (MCC): The MCC is a monthly meeting attended by SCS staff and trainees to address how intersectional identities of both student and counselor impact one another, and the work they do together. A structured process is used to provide feedback to the presenting counselor at each meeting, to support multiculturally informed counseling.
Statements and Resources from SCS partners
Asian American Studies Program Statement Regarding Campus Climate and COVID-19
Asian American history has shown us how the stereotyping of early Chinese immigrants as carriers of disease was part of a larger pattern of racial violence and legal exclusion. More recently outbreaks of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and the Ebola virus were accompanied by a resurgence of suspicion and hostility towards particular countries, cultures, and people. As emerging infectious diseases become a global phenomenon, they can only be fought through solidarity and cooperation, rather than anxiety, stigmatization, and hostility.
Asian and Asian American students in our classes and in our AAS program have expressed that recent incidents on campus and in the wider society related to COVID-19 have left them feeling targeted and vulnerable. We feel it is imperative that the University of Minnesota, and all of us, work toward building a safe, supportive climate, free from racial hostility for all of our students, particularly in these anxious times.
We urge our students, colleagues, and community members at the University of Minnesota to act with compassion and concern for those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and other infectious diseases worldwide. We stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted, both directly and indirectly, by racist and xenophobic words and actions associated with these outbreaks. We extend our support to those who are working to find effective medical treatments, to educate the public about effective and humane ways of stopping the spread of disease, and to support diverse and thriving communities.
On campus resources and information about the COVID-19 virus, current University recommendations, and health and counseling services can be found here. For more information about teaching and learning about coronavirus racism go to this resource developed by Professor Jason Oliver Chang. For more information about preventing and challenging stigma and bias related to COVID-19 go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you believe you are experiencing bias related to race, national origin, or other protected identity on campus, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action or the Bias Response and Referral Network. The Asian Pacific American Resource Center (APARC), located at 311 Appleby Hall, is a valuable resource for students. APARC staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss concerns about COVID-19 bias.
Asian American Studies Program, University of Minnesota
We realize this conversation and work is ongoing and we take personal and organizational responsibility to continue reducing barriers to students seeking services, strengthening our multicultural competence, and celebrating differences. We welcome feedback on areas of concern or improvement. Please feel free to contact members of the Diversity and Equity Workgroup so we can better meet the needs of our community.