Surviving mental health on campus

Help is just a phone call away. Faculties and departments across TU Delft have a panel of trained experts available with any kind of counselling help that students and PhD candidates might need.

We asked Paula Meesters, the team leader of the campus psychologists, about their services and how best they can be approached.

Language is not a barrier
“Of course we can talk to students in English. We have also had students who cannot communicate well in English or in Dutch, but language has never been a barrier. We can always communicate enough to help,” said Meesters. They also have a number of international counsellors that they can refer the student to if required.

A dedicated psychologist for international students
Starting soon, the team will include an International Student Psychologist. According to Meesters, “We understand that internationals grapple with emotions such as homesickness, adjustment barriers and need help keeping all that in mind.”

When and how to approach them?
Check your faculty/department website to get in touch with academic/ career counsellors. “If it’s not an emergency, it’s best to come to us via our website,” she said. “Students fill out a form highlighting the main issues they face and we make an appointment.” One psychologist is available every day and can be reached at 015-2788004.

It’s free – of cost and judgement
All visits to campus counsellors are free of charge and confidential. “We want students to feel absolutely comfortable about coming to us with their problems, or alerting us about a friend that they feel might need some help. There should be no stigma attached at all,” said Meesters

What sort of help can you expect?
A student usually meets with the psychologist on campus a few times to help them cope better. Cases that need prolonged therapy are referred to outside counsellors. Also, if a student undergoing therapy needs extra time to complete his course, or even financial help, the psychologists and academic counsellors can help them approach the university for an extension or help.

Other kinds of help
The university also has general counsellors who focus on campus regulations, financial support and help with the IND to Career Counsellors for those who might be confused about what options will be best for them. There are regular meetings with the management, faculty and student organisations where they can suggest solutions to some problems most of their clients face.

Training classes
The psychologists also conduct free training courses for students. From Constructive Thinking (for those who fear failure), how to get your stress under control, and a fairly open-ended course called Ready for Change which is applicable to anyone who feels they need to change something – whether it’s learning to say no or better concentration.

Help outside TU
While campus psychologists cannot treat staff members, there are a number of psychologists and psychiatrists in the Netherlands that cater to internationals. If you’re unsure, start with the ACCESS Counsellors Network, a network formed by ACCESS, a non-profit organisation based in The Hague that helps expatriates settle into the Netherlands. “These counsellors are not only mental health professionals they are themselves expatriates or have had expatriate experience. And know that living far from the familiar is of relevance and importance when discussing or dealing with any kind of mental health situation,” said Deborah Valentine, executive director. Every month two of their counsellors are on call. The caller is then referred to someone within the network who best suits their needs: location, language, required expertise. This call is free of charge. Subsequent treatment/consultations are charged and arranged between the client and therapist.

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