Students are more open to talking about mental health. Here’s how Northeastern is meeting the demand with new resources

Mental health service counselor helping a Northeastern student.
University Health and Counseling Services. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

College is a time of transition for young adults—new surroundings, relationships, academic expectations, professional expectations and financial responsibilities.

New circumstances often present added stress. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has brought mental-health conversations to the forefront.

“As we all know, mental health was significantly impacted by the pandemic,” says Christine Civiletto, assistant vice chancellor for wellness at Northeastern University.

There is a silver lining, however, according to Civiletto—students are more open to talking about mental-health concerns and increasingly willing to reach out for help.

In fact, the vast majority of Northeastern students (84%) who responded to the National College Health Assessment, a 2022 random-sample survey, indicated that they would consider seeking help from a mental-health professional if they were having a personal problem. 

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Northeastern has expanded mental-health and wellness resources, including staffing and services, to keep up with the growing demand around the clock. Both in person and virtual options are available to help students regardless of location or time of day.

Northeastern’s University Health and Counseling Services, also known as UHCS, is a center providing in-person medical and mental-health care for students.

Located on the first floor of the Forsyth Building on the Boston campus, UHCS comprises a multidisciplinary team of licensed and board certified medical and mental-health clinicians, including physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, mental-health clinicians, a psychiatrist, psychologist and registered dietician.

UHCS also serves as a resource hub for students at the university’s other global campuses—including London and Oakland, California—providing information about location specific health-care providers.

Civiletto recently answered many frequently asked questions about Northeastern’s mental-health services.

Other FAQs were answered by Kellianne Carfi, director of wellness initiatives; Keyne Cahoon, director of student support services; Kyle Droz, director of the Disability Resource Center; Kelly Moran, director of coordinated care and health promotions; Bob Jose, dean of Cultural and Spiritual Life; and Kushal Safi, director of global security.

What is Northeastern doing to meet the need for mental-health support and create more points of access for students?

Students who are interested in meeting with a provider at UHCS are encouraged to call 617-373-2772 to schedule an appointment. UHCS is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. UHCS is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays from September through June.

Visits are by appointment only, but UHCS also has drop-in hours for mental-health concerns from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

During drop-in mental-health hours, therapists are available to meet with students and conduct a brief assessment, provide support and intervention, and make recommendations and connections to ongoing care. 

Free confidential mental-health support is available to all full-time students across the global university system 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through Find@Northeastern. By calling Find@Northeastern, students are immediately connected with a licensed therapist who provides in-the-moment support and makes recommendations for ongoing care including referrals to unlimited free therapy sessions with a therapist in the local area. Self-guided wellness programs including Headspace and SilverCloud are also available to students at no cost. To connect with Find@Northeastern, students can call 877-233-9477 in the United States, 855-229-8797 in Canada, or +1-781-457-7777 internationally. 

“Through Find@Northeastern and drop-in hours, we have significantly increased accessibility to support and significantly lessened wait times,” Civiletto says. “This service is especially important at Northeastern as we are a global university with students studying, traveling and working all over the world.” 

Utilization of Find@Northeastern has increased by 32% since 2022 and 87% since 2021, Civiletto says.

“We know that stigma is decreasing, and more students are willing to reach out for support,” Civiletto says.

In addition to increasing accessibility to mental-health services through UHCS and Find@Northeastern, Northeastern joined the JED Campus program last fall. The four-year strategic collaboration will assess and enhance work that is already being done on mental health and suicide prevention.

Students can also reference Northeastern’s Student Mental Health Guide for information on available resources and how to support a friend who is struggling. The guide also addresses many of the questions that students may have about mental-health concerns and accessing support.  

What should a student do if mental health impacts their academic or co-op performance?

In addition to seeking assistance from UHCS, students can engage with other resources on campus such as We Care and The Disability Resource Center (DRC)

We Care, an office that supports Northeastern students when they encounter academic challenges, can coach students to communicate with professors and employers. The DRC can assist students with academic accommodations. The DRC can also help students ask for accommodations in the workforce including co-ops.

Information on the accommodation process is available on the DRC website. Students can email or visit their office in 20 Dodge Hall.

What is Northeastern doing to help faculty support students’ mental health?

Students frequently reach out to professors and disclose challenges they face outside the classroom.

“We also know that our faculty want to support students, but sometimes feel unsure about the best way to do so,” Civiletto says.

To better prepare faculty for these conversations, UHCS partnered with the Office of Prevention and Education at Northeastern (OPEN), the Office of the Provost and Active Minds to develop a resource guide for faculty. The guide orients faculty on approaching conversations with students about mental-health concerns. 

Over the past year, Northeastern has conducted training sessions for faculty to review resources, discuss ways to respond to student concerns, and provide role playing and practice opportunities. 

What should you do if you’re worried about someone you care about?

University administrators worked with a student group, Northeastern Active Minds, to develop a set of resource guides for faculty, staff, families and fellow students about how to support students’ mental health. 

The guides are all available on the UHCS website and include information about warning signs to look out for, as well as how to connect students with appropriate campus partners when they need extra support.

How do you find resources at the Oakland campus?

Mental-health services are available to students studying on the Oakland campus through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which is in the Cowell Building. They can call 510-430-2111 or walk-in to schedule an appointment. Urgent drop-in appointments are also available.

Students can visit the Student Health Center for medical services between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or call 510-431-1108 to schedule an appointment. The health center is located in CPM, Room 117.

And in London?

Along with services through Find@Northeastern, London students have access to a variety of support. Northeastern encourages year-long students to register with a local medical doctor within two weeks of arrival. This can only be done after the student arrives in London and has a local address. The registration link is here.

Assistance is available through Global Safety and Support Network’s international assistance hotline. This network of providers and resources is available 24/7 by calling +1-857-214-5332.  Additional information is available on Northeastern’s Global Safety and Support Network website

All traveling students can call that hotline for 24/7 medical assistance through a nurse helpline, and referrals to counseling and psychiatric services. 

For emergency support, students in the United Kingdom should dial 999—which is the UK’s equivalent of 911. 

What mental-health resources are available for students who are outside the United States?

Mental-health support is available to students 24 hours a day wherever they are in the world, through Find@Northeastern. 

For students residing outside of the United States, there are a few ways to contact Find@Northeastern. Students in Canada can call 855-229-8797. If the student is elsewhere internationally, they can call +1-781-457-7777. 

Students can also use the website to initiate contact (password: Northeastern; smartphone app: iConnectYou; app code: 212530) or email

In advance of traveling, students and families are invited to pre-departure orientations where information about travel health is reviewed. This includes information about advance planning for ongoing health matters, insurance coverage and understanding the destination country’s rules and regulations. 

A key requirement for students traveling abroad is to have calling capabilities through their current phone plan or local SIM. This allows university staff to outreach the student during a difficult time, determine what support is needed and provide the pathway to care.

Through Find@Northeastern and drop-in hours, we have significantly increased accessibility to support and significantly lessened wait times.

Christine Civiletto, assistant vice chancellor for wellness at Northeastern

What resources are available if students need help related to alcohol, drugs or sexual violence?

The Office of Prevention and Education at Northeastern (OPEN) provides prevention and education services on the topics of alcohol and other drugs, sexual violence, sexual health and other wellness related topics. OPEN provides direct services on alcohol and other drugs and sexual violence. 

Students interested in discussing their alcohol and/or other drug use can meet with an OPEN staff member for a confidential and supportive check-in meeting. OPEN also provides confidential and trauma informed support for students who have experience any form of sexual violence or abuse through the Sexual Violence Resource Center

OPEN’s Confidential Resource Advisor (CRA) provides confidential, non-judgmental, restorative-informed services for students who have been accused of any form of sexual violence and/or who have concerns about beliefs and behaviors that could lead to harm. 

How does Northeastern approach wellness?

Northeastern defines wellness as consisting of eight dimensions that contribute to overall wellbeing. This model was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Northeastern encourages students to think of health and wellness not only as pertaining to physical and emotional wellbeing but also in terms of their occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental and spiritual aspects of life. These eight dimensions are interconnected, with each building on and contributing to another. 

Wellness programs and initiatives at Northeastern are rooted in this frame. Each spring, the university offers a series of programs and events across the global system focused on each of the eight dimensions as part of Wellness Week.

Are there any peer education groups focused on wellness?

OPEN offers a variety of programs like Husky to Husky, a peer education group focused on educating the Northeastern community on a range of wellness topics and wellness resources. Peer educators facilitate workshops and events on a variety of topics from stress reduction and self-care to learning more about alcohol toxicity.

OPEN hosts awareness months and weeks such as, Alcohol Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Wellness Week and more. 

OPEN’s peer educators facilitate the “Up2Us: Bystander Intervention” sexual violence prevention program in first-year seminars. This program teaches students how to be active and prosocial bystanders.

OPEN staff and peer educators facilitate customized, interactive programs on sexual violence, consent, bystander intervention, alcohol, cannabis and more. To request a presentation or program, staff, faculty and students can fill out this form

Northeastern’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, & Service (CSDS) convenes and hosts the Mindfulness Fellows. The Fellows are primarily student leaders who train other students as mindfulness/wellness educators for educational efforts across the network.

What other services are available to support student wellness? 

OPEN, UHCS and NU SHARE have partnered to bring a wellness vending machine to the Boston campus. There is also a wellness vending machine on the Oakland campus. Both machines offer low-cost emergency contraception and free sexual health supplies including external and internal condoms, oral dams, lubricant and other wellness supplies. 

OPEN’s Frisky Husky program provides free and discreet delivery of sexual health supplies to Northeastern students living at the Boston campus with on-campus mailboxes.

Additionally, OPEN offers a variety of online modules available to the Northeastern community via Canvas. Examples of available modules include: Up2Us: Bystander Intervention, Alcohol Skills Training Program, Building Resilience Skills, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, How to Make Friends that Stick in College, Sexual Health 101.

Wellness programming, support, and opportunities for building connections are also available to students across the global university system through Northeastern’s Cultural and Spiritual Life Centers. The centers, working with intersections between identity development, mental health and wellness, develop initiatives and programming that support student needs across the network. The Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service (CSDS) hosts a wide variety of programs and events focused on wellness, including mindfulness sessions and daily yoga and guided meditation. The Cultural Centers advance wellness by providing opportunities for students to create a sense of belonging and meaningful connection.

Last summer, Northeastern’s Division of Student Life partnered with the Student Government Association and the student organization Active Minds to further support student mental health and general wellbeing by offering a Wellness Days Pilot Program to Boston-based, non-CPS undergraduate students. The pilot program has been extended through this summer. 

David Nordman is executive editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @davenordman.