“That’s pretty good stuff.”

18 Oct

With so many things going on in college like balancing school, making new friends and living on your own for the first time, it’s tough to keep your priorities in line, especially your health.  However, there’s more to being healthy than just your physical well-being; keeping yourself mentally healthy is also important to developing as an individual.

Are you mentally & physically healthy?

Chicago College Life interviewed Dr. Joseph Hermes, the Director of the UIC Counseling Center, to find out why students should focus on their overall health and what resources and educational opportunities the Counseling Center has to offer.

Chicago College Life: To begin, where did you go to school, how long you have been working at UIC and how you got interested in a career as a counselor?

Dr. Joseph Hermes: I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago and am a licensed clinical psychologist in the State of Illinois.  I am in my fifth year here at UIC as Director of the Counseling Center. Prior to this appointment, I served as a director of counseling centers at two other Chicago-area universities and also as an Associate Dean for Wellness [where I was] responsible for counseling services, health services, and recreational sports.

I believe one of my first recognitions that a career in the mental health field would be fulfilling came when I was a volunteer aide in a hospital emergency room during my undergraduate years.  It was there that I found myself quite attuned to understanding and learning how to help people manage their emotional response to acute physical trauma and support each other through it.  I’ve continued to be energized and rewarded by the ongoing transformation and expansion of that initial awareness throughout my development as a psychologist.

CCL: Where is the Counseling Center located and what are the hours of operation?
DJH: The Counseling Center is located in the Student Services Building, Suite 2010.  Phone number is 312.996.3490.  We’re open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Go to the Counseling Center’s website

CCL: How many students does the Counseling Center help each year?
DJH:  About a thousand students receive some type of psychotherapy or psychiatric care at the Counseling Center every year.  In addition, several thousand receive information from us by way of presentations/workshops during orientations, classroom presentations, career development groups, and other psycho-educational activities.  UIC students are also helped by our consultation services to faculty, staff, and students who contact us out of concern for a distressed student.

Need someone to talk to?

CCL:  What are some of the common problems that students seek help from the Counseling Center for?
DJH:  In any given year, students commonly seek our assistance for depression, anxiety/tension, romantic and family relationship concerns, academic concerns, sexual and cultural identity concerns, sleep and concentration difficulties, trauma experiences, and many other concerns including suicidal thinking, anger, career concerns, eating/body image struggles, alcohol/drug concerns, grief/loss, and physical complaints.

CCL:  What kind of services does the Counseling Center offer?
DJH:  We provide individual and group therapy, outreach, consultation, crisis intervention, testing, assessment, referrals, career and couples counseling, psychiatric care, and education and training of future psychologists and psychiatrists.

Services are FREE for UIC students at the Counseling Center!

Additionally, we educate and train paraprofessionals and provide campus/community service via the InTouch Crisis Hotline.  We provide consultation and information in support of the greater university system which includes faculty and staff.  The Counseling Center is supported by the Health Services Fee … and therefore enrolled students are eligible for Counseling Center mental health services without additional cost.

CCL:  What kind of professional staff are employed?
DJH:  The Counseling Center professional staff includes licensed clinical psychologists, a psychiatrist, and post-doctoral psychology fellows.  We also have advanced pre-doctoral psychology graduate students who provide counseling and psycho-educational programs under our supervision.

CCL:  Can non-UIC students benefit from any of the center’s services?
DJH:  A non-UIC student who is in a relationship with a UIC student can participate in couples counseling together.  Non-UIC students can also call for consultation (312.996.3490) when they are concerned about how to best help a distressed UIC student.  Non-UIC students, like all other community members, can utilize the InTouch Hotline (312.996.5535) which is available evenings from 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

CCL:  What is the In-Touch Crisis Hotline and how many students does the hotline assist each year?
DJH:  The InTouch Hotline is a free crisis intervention, counseling, and referral service offered to UIC students and members of the greater Chicagoland area. The InTouch Hotline is staffed by volunteers trained through the UIC Counseling Center Paraprofessional Program. Calls placed to the InTouch Hotline remain confidential and are treated in an objective, non-judgmental fashion.  Because the calls are confidential and often anonymous, we cannot differentiate how many of our more than 1200 calls received each year are from UIC students or other community members.

CCL:  Why is it important for students to not only being physically healthy, but also mentally & emotionally healthy?
DJH:  The short and direct answer to this question is that mental, emotional, and physical health all have an impact on one’s academic functioning.  Being attentive to one’s emotional and physical health helps you manage, recover, and grow from difficulties when they arise, and therefore to be at your best in meeting academic demands and getting the most out of all that a university experience has to offer.

CCL:  Anything else you would like to add?
DJH:  There’s a great staff here all committed to multicultural competency and social justice and dedicated to understanding, supporting, and helping students.  Talking with a Counseling Center professional can provide the safe, supportive, confidential setting to explore a student’s concerns towards improving emotional, physical and academic functioning.  That’s pretty good stuff.

Your health is important, so take care of yourself and use the resources, like the Counseling Center, that your school has to offer!

Do you attend DePaul University?  Check out Counseling Services in suite 350 of the Student Center on the Lincoln Park campus.

Are you a student at Loyola University Chicago?  Visit the Wellness Center located in the Doyle Center on the Lakeshore Campus.

Take classes at Roosevelt University?  The Counseling Center is located in the Auditorium Building on the Downtown campus.



3 Responses to ““That’s pretty good stuff.””

  1. Fish Oil December 2, 2010 at 12:43 PM #

    having a regular nightlife can make your life a very colorful one, i enjoy having nigh outs :.”


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