Kate Shannon Biddle
Kate Shannon Biddle, Dean of Students

Graduate school is an exciting adventure that presents many changes—some of which admittedly can be stressful.

This is why the Dean of Students Office emphasizes the importance of establishing a self-care routine early in your academic career and taking advantage of the many resources the university offers for mental health.

“We view mental health the same as physical health,” said Kate Shannon Biddle, Harris Dean of Students. “It is not at all uncommon for students to need an academic accommodation because of a mental health issue.

The UChicago Student Wellness office offers, in-person and telehealth counseling, wellness coaching, community programs, a 24-7 therapist on call, and drop-in counseling to students. There is also a meditation room that can be used anytime. These services are funded through your quarterly student services fee.

Whether you are on University of Chicago Student Health Insurance Policy (USHIP) or another plan, you can receive a certain number of counseling sessions through the University of Chicago. After that number of sessions is used, there are case workers who can work with your insurance provider to help make referrals out to counselors in the area.

“My recommendation to students is to start by going to an interim appointment for the counseling center because it’s free,” said Biddle. “Sometimes a student only plans to attend a few sessions, but they find the experience so helpful, they decide they would benefit from ongoing sessions. Caseworkers can make referrals out to other providers, and they have a deep knowledge of which providers have worked well for students in the past.”

Your advisor can suggest additional resources, provide tips for managing your workload, meet with you for regular check-ins, and help you drop or finish a class with an incomplete, if needed. Overall, you advisor can be a thought partner to help you navigate various options and implement a plan that works best for you. There are also resources available for disability accomodations.

“I encourage any student to reach out to their advisor or come to me,” said Biddle. “You will be met with help and compassion.”