AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2019, the University of Texas Police Department received 500 calls for mental health crises happening in and around campus. Now, the university is unveiling a new mental health crisis response program to help mental health emergencies and provide support for students, faculty and staff in need.
UT Austin announced this week the launch of its Mental Health Assistance and Response Team. The two-year pilot program partners licensed counselors with trained police officers on ways to respond to mental health emergencies and provide immediate counseling to those experiencing a crisis.
One result of the pandemic has been an increased public awareness of mental health struggles, said Dr. Rebecca Farrell, program coordinator for NAMI Central Texas. With that heightened awareness can come a reduction in stigmatization surrounding mental health diagnoses.
However, she said this fall will be a transitional period for many students as they return to campus — some for the first time in 18 months.
"We are going to see more anxiety, more depression, more stress, oftentimes, related to the uncertainty. So the question becomes 'what is the new normal,' right?" she said. "People always think about, 'when are we going to go back to normal?' I don't know if we're ever going to go back to normal, but we are creating a new normal."