Most experts agree: Education remains the best way to prevent dangerous behaviors. Now, thanks to a recent restructuring of the UT Division of Student Affairs, a highly focused, education-centered approach to substance abuse and sexual assault will be available to the University community.Under the new model, Dr. Stanley Edwards, director of the UT Counseling Center, provides the leadership as the center’s services will be housed under one roof, expanding to include educational outreach services: alcohol, tobacco and drug education, and sexual assault awareness and prevention.
The philosophy behind the expansion, he explained, is to maximize the division’s resources by creating new bridges between areas of student services.
“The Counseling Center’s experience is in the educational component — in the delivery of services, which will be key. Plus, we have counselors with a great deal of knowledge in the areas of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Staff members of Student Affairs will continue to share their own long experience of working with students in these areas,” said the psychologist who prior to joining UT spent 12 years in community mental health leadership.
“Together, we’ll work to create very effective programs in the areas of substance abuse prevention and sexual assault prevention. With our combined expertise, the big winners are students and others who utilize our services.”
As part of its outreach efforts, the Counseling Center is offering faculty and staff on both campuses training programs to raise awareness about the legal and illegal substances commonly used on college campuses.
The training sessions, “Legal and Illegal Substances Impacting College Students: A General Overview,” will take place Monday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. in Student Union Room 2582 on Main Campus and Friday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m. in iCARE University in the basement of Mulford Library on Health Science Campus.
“We encourage all interested faculty and staff to attend these training sessions to learn about how these substances work, signs that a student might be exposed to them, and the effects they have on people’s minds and bodies,” Edwards said.
Training sessions provided by volunteers from the local YWCA HOPE Center, a local rape crisis center, also were held last week for faculty, staff and students interested in becoming advocates for sexual assault victims.
With wider public awareness of such issues, Edwards said, comes a greater willingness for people to seek help through services such as those the University offers.
He’s considering meeting with students to determine ways of further improving programming. Until then, he added, “Our goal in expanding these services is to meet students’ needs and help them make healthy choices in a complex world — in their personal relationships, in lifestyles, in all areas affecting their physical and mental health.”