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‘Healing Our Heroes’

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University of St. Thomas again demonstrates its leadership and commitment to community service with the launch of its new, one-of-a-kind program to alleviate the long-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Greater Houston’s first responders and front-line health care professionals.

The Healing Our Heroes initiative, which began Sept. 15, offers pro bono mental health counseling resources to health care professionals. The effort was inspired by troubling stories from the front lines.

“We were hearing of first responders taking their own lives, brand new nurses leaving their first shifts in tears, never to return, and veteran professionals leaving their careers,” Spencer Conroy, vice president of Finance and Business Affairs, recounted. “Also, reports of PTSD, insomnia, nightmares and other signs of extreme emotional and physical stress are commonplace. You don’t have to look hard to find news reports detailing in heart-wrenching specificity the types of experiences these people are facing daily with no sign of relief on the horizon.”

First-of-its-kind, University-based Clinic in Houston

UST is the first Houston university to open a campus-based clinic focused on health care workers and first responders. 

The clinic is conducted by the University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program (CMHCP) counselors-in-training and supervised by Dr. Grant Sasse, clinic director. 

“Counseling can be helpful for many different reasons, including but not limited to stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, emotional pain and many other struggles,” Sasse said.

The CMHCP clinic offers individual and group services. Until it is safe to return to campus, the sessions will be provided through HIPAA-compliant, tele-mental health video conferencing. When campus reopens, face-to-face sessions will be available. 

All services are confidential and meet the code of ethics established by the American Counseling Association and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.  “This is another example of the University of St. Thomas coming together to care for the wider community using the gifts God gives us,” UST President Richard Ludwick said. “This time, we’re fighting against the mental health impact of a deadly virus by helping to heal those on the front lines and make their lives better.”

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA 01

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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