By Aanisah Husain
Many young people are on their own for the first time as they start college. The University of Maryland Health Center recognizes the challenges students may face as they adjust and aims to provide a safe, accessible space, along with abundant resources, to help students through this transition.
“I felt very safe and comfortable … That is how you should feel going into any sort of health service, any sort of appointment,” said Mariam Ashraf, a junior public health science major.
The health center offers students and faculty comprehensive medical services, most of which are free of charge. The center’s offerings include women’s health, physical therapy, infectious disease testing, vaccine and allergy clinics, nutrition coaching and wellness resources, and behavioral health services, including meditation workshops and counseling. Each specialty provides comprehensive support — wellness resources, for example, include time management and substance use sessions, and women’s health services include access to contraception and pregnancy testing.
Ishika Srivastava, a senior information science major, said that it was easy to access support at the center and encouraged students to take advantage of the resources there. “As current college students, so many of us suffer from mental health issues. People should reach out for help if you need it and it’s right next door, so might as well use it,” she said. “Instead of having to go out to find different providers for these things, I could just kind of go to one place and receive the help that I need.”
The university’s CARE to Stop Violence program offers confidential support and resources to victims of sexual abuse. The CARE program is a department within the health center and is staffed with counselors and volunteers who are trained to support victims of harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence.
“I hope the health center can be a trusted place for students of all backgrounds to go to, especially when it comes to the newer mental health care,” said Ashraf, who also serves as the public outreach chair for the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). “Every student deserves a place where they feel cared for and understood.”
According to Sara Dawood, a senior microbiology major and president of SHAC, the committee serves as the “student voice for the university health center.” SHAC works in conjunction with the health center and the UMD Student Government Association to conduct outreach and host educational events promoting services provided by the center.
“I hope that students are able to see that they have more convenient access to services that they might not think is available to them,” Dawood noted.
The health center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the center and its offerings, go to health.umd.edu/hpws.