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Summer mental health services offered to OU international students in multiple languages

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A sign in front of Evans Hall at the rally for international students on July 13.

A new program is offering free, multilingual mental health services to OU international students over the summer.

This 24/7, confidential support service offers counseling in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, French and English, as well as other languages by appointment. Students with an F-1 or J-1 visa can download the My Student Support Program app from LifeWorks to call or message a counselor in real-time.  

The program is an extension of measures International Student Services took during the pandemic to provide support to students.

“We initially only offered the My SSP service to international students who were enrolling from abroad over the last year due to travel and/or visa complications related to the pandemic,” OU International Student Services director Robyn Rojas said. “Since these students weren’t physically here in Norman, they didn’t have access to all of the resources, including the University Counseling Center, that they normally would as enrolled students.”

OU civil engineering master student Carlos Crespo said the program addressed a common issue international students face with counseling in the U.S., as English is often not their first language.

“In English, there is this language barrier sometimes,” Crespo said. “(In Spanish), I can be more precise about the terminology of what’s going on in my mind.” 

ISS believes allowing students to express themselves in their most comfortable language could aid their experiences in counseling and help them care for their mental health, Rojas said. 

“We know the topic of mental health can be difficult to discuss from culture to culture,” Rojas said. “Removing a language barrier makes it more likely for people to reach out when they need help.”

The program’s around-the-clock counseling support is just one feature of a variety of health services offered. Students may access a collection of articles, podcasts, infographics and videos about all aspects of wellbeing and virtual fitness sessions through an online mental health resource LIFT for free.  

OU international students can schedule appointments with the same counselor over multiple sessions for continued support and contact OU International Student Services for further assistance.

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