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Exterior of the Women’s Resource Center on Saturday, April 20. 

Mental Health Collaborative offers free counseling and a master's internship

The University of New Mexico’s Mental Health Collaborative (MHC) provides free, short-term counseling through various resource centers on campus. It also functions as an internship program that employs students earning their master’s degree in the mental health field.

MHC’s counseling services begin on the first day of classes and run through a semester; students receive between six and 14 sessions per semester. Counselors offer telehealth or in-person sessions, according to their website. These sessions are also accessible for Spanish-speaking students.

Ivette Acevedo Weatherholtz, a fourth-year doctoral student in the UNM Counselor Education program, supervises the MHC counseling team and is a graduate assistant at El Centro de la Raza.

“Students do not have to be actively engaged in these resource centers, however, our vision is to provide spaces within familiar settings, particularly for globally majority populations that are underrepresented in other spaces,” Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

MHC has offices at El Centro, the Women’s Resource Center and the Accessibility Resource Center, Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote. The program’s goal is to increase mental health access through “trauma-responsive and culturally and linguistically centered services,” according to their website.

The MHC program requires their interns to go through extensive training on gender violence, race-based stress, trauma-informed care and suicide assesment, according to Acevedo Weatherholtz.

The program also works with other UNM mental health and advocacy entities, such as Student Health and Counseling, LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center and the Manzanita Counseling Training Clinic. She hopes to expand offices to other student resource centers in the future,  Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

“MHC’s goal is to promote and normalize mental wellness through free counseling, crisis intervention, support groups, psychoeducational workshops and referral resources,” Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

These psychoeducational workshops discuss wellness and self-care, and occur throughout the academic year, according to the MHC website.

MHC resulted from a partnership between the WRC and El Centro, following student feedback during COVID-19 about the need for more mental health resources at UNM, Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

“There is a shortage of mental health providers in New Mexico, and this is reflected within UNM as well. However, there are many departments that see the need and are actively working to fill this gap,” Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

MHC, though not a crisis hotline, provides crisis intervention support to active counseling participants and refers them to UNM Hospital or Agora Crisis Center, Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

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“MHC is committed to creating a safe and respectful environment for all members of our community,” Acevedo Weatherholtz wrote.

Dannely Verduzco is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com

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