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It’s an honor to serve as the director of TCU's Counseling & Mental Health Center, and I’m grateful to write this blog for our prospective students and families. The topic of college mental health has been a hot topic of discussion, especially since 2020. There are so many narratives, sources of information and opinions out there that might seem overwhelming. As such, I welcome the chance to share my perspective and to discuss student supports available at TCU.
image of Dr. Eric Woods
Foremost, I want to discuss why every major university and college has a campus counseling center. It’s false to assume that schools build counseling centers due to a perception that college students are “crazy” or that most of them suffer from a clinical diagnosis. We exist because stress is not defined as the occurrence of “good” or “bad” events, but rather how much change an individual is experiencing. 

If you want to know how stressed out you are, a good measure to is reflect on how much change you have experienced in the last 3-6 months. The start of college, especially for students who come from out-of-state, is one of the few points in the developmental life span when everything in a student’s life is changing. When college starts, students experience change in what they're learning, where they live, how they identity themselves, their relationship with peers and parents, where they eat, what they do for fun, etc. Ironically, graduating college is also another time of complete change in the life span. With so much change bookmarking the college experience, college counseling centers exists to support the student through these changes and navigate academic pressure, building a new social network and more. 

I say this because if a student contacts a campus counseling center, it's not a sign of failure or weakness. Again, every major university or college has a counseling center. It’s expected that students need help during this time. That's why schools, including TCU, place a priority on support services by making them accessible to every student. 

With that said, ages 18-24 is when many psychological and mental health concerns emerge. It’s not uncommon for a student to experience a first depressive episode or panic attack during the traditional-aged college years. If a student has a history of such concerns, it’s not uncommon for these symptoms to flare up when entering college. This may sound scary, but it’s also why many of my staff have dedicated their careers to serving college students. Treating a mental health concern right when it emerges is key. The opportunity to change the trajectory of a student’s mental health is much stronger while at college than a student waiting 10 to 15 years to seek treatment. 

If a student has a history of mental health concerns, or experiences symptoms while in college, seeking formal treatment can be vital. At TCU, I’m proud to say that our clinical services have been nationally recognized. In 2022, we were named #4 Best Student Support and Counseling Services by The Princeton Review. We’ve been featured in publication such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Insider Higher Ed, The Harvard Business Review, and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. We’ve also trained over 100 other universities and colleges in various aspects of our counseling model.

No school claims to be perfect, but we do things at TCU that are innovative to the field, such as offer equine therapy (yes with real horses), partner with local treatment centers to host specialized programs on campus, and have a dedicate team of therapists to provide triage and crisis care services (in addition to our general staff therapists). We also foster non-clinical peer support communities, such as our Support Gaming Community and Collegiate Recovery Community where students can connect with others who have shared experiences. 
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If you want more information about our services, please visit our website and feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions. I welcome the chance to speak with prospective students and families.  

Indeed, starting college is filled with many changes. Some students and their families might feel overwhelmed and nervous. Such feelings are expected and reflect that a new stage in life is about to begin. On behalf of my staff, it will be an honor to provide support and assistance to you if you join our TCU family. If needed, we hope that you contact us. TCU has a lot to offer, the campus community is vibrant and welcoming, and I can attest to just how much the institution values the mental health of the student body.   


Eric Wood, Ph.D., L.P.C., director of TCU’s Counseling & Mental Health Center, was awarded the Michael R. Ferrari Award for Distinguished University Service and Leadership in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions to mental health efforts at TCU and beyond, specifically during a demanding time following the COVID-19 pandemic.