Baylor Counseling sees rise in requests following Winter Storm Uri

Baylor Counseling has seen an increased need for mental health care this week as students recuperate from Winter Storm Uri. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Annaleise Parsons | Staff Writer

Baylor Counseling Services has seen a higher need for mental health care this week as students recuperate from Winter Storm Uri.

Randal Boldt, Pys.D, senior associate director and supervising psychologist at Baylor Counseling, said requests for the counseling services were somewhat delayed as many students reached out this week rather than last week.

“The storm was an acutely stressful event, and it had the potential impact for not just mental health but physical health and safety,” Boldt said. “People will go in crisis mode in responding trying to take care of those [physical] needs first, but it’s following that period of stress and anxiety that the additional mental health impact came later.”

The revised academic calendar for the semester from Baylor included the removal of both a planned wellness day and a designated study day before finals.

“I had that concern of [burnout] already because of the pandemic and other stressors going on, and so when you add to that this restricted calendar, it just makes more stress with less opportunities for break and coping,” Boldt said.

Dallas freshman Abby Ragan said the Winter Storm Uri caused her academic workload to double during the two weeks after the storm.

“I definitely feel like it’s gotten worse just because of a combination of personal issues that were going on at the same time and then over the next week, the amount of work that then I had to make up for because of the delays caused by the storm made my next week very stressful. And I’m still dealing with it now.” Ragan said.

Ragan’s experience is not unique, Boldt said. Many students have reached out to the counseling center to deal with similar stressors. The mental health effects of Winter Storm Uri and the student workload can increase anxiety, stress, burnout and depression.

“The acute stress of it, worrying about your own safety is traumatic … and including the academic demands, piling all of those on top of each other can be very stressful,” Boldt said. “It can impact mood and depression as well.”

If students are struggling, the Baylor Counseling Center is available for help. Students can schedule an appointment and initiation assessment by calling 254-710-2467 and if in a crisis, there’s a counselor available to talk with 24 hours a day at 254-710-2467.