Supporting International Students
Are you an international student interested in mental health services and resources? You're in the right place to learn more about mental health counseling, UCS services, and other mental health resources on campus or around the world.
What do other international students say about University Counseling Service:
* We recognized that the current video is outdated and not representative of our diverse international student populations in terms of race/ethnicity, nationality, and language proficiency. We will make a new video soon.
Common Myths about Counseling:
Watch the video to learn about the myths and facts about mental health concerns and counseling!
Myth 1: Counseling is for crazy people.
False. Millions of people in the U.S. seek therapy. Seeing a therapist is as normal as going to the doctor when you break a leg. Many people seek therapy for adjustment difficulties, navigating cultural differences, and addressing barriers for academic success. In fact, seeking mental health care shows that you’re motivated, self-aware, and empowered.
Myth 2: Everyone will know I saw a counselor.
False. Information you discuss in therapy is confidential. Your doctors or therapists are legally and ethnically bound to protect your privacy. They cannot disclose information to your parents, friends, or school faculty. There are exceptions to confidentiality, including (1) danger and/or risk of imminent harm to yourself or specifically identified others; (2) child abuse or dependent adult abuse; and (3) responses to court order or subpoena or as otherwise required by law.
Myth 3: I can handle my own mental health problems. If I can’t, that means I’m weak.
False. Seeking help for a mental health issue is similar to seeking help for any other medical problem. If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t try to heal yourself. Mental health is no different.
Myth 4: If I talk about drinking alcohol or doing drugs, I’ll get in trouble.
False. Mental health professionals are available to help you through a difficult time, and our offices are considered safe and confidential places to discuss your experiences and what you are going through. We will not disclose conversations about alcohol or substance use to the University without your permission.
Myth 5. The things we discuss will be part of my permanent academic record and will be viewed negatively.
False. The information you share with your therapist will remain confidential. It will NOT be a part of school transcripts or any other school records.
Adapted from the video “Mental Health Awareness for International Students”
Make an Appointment
Currently enrolled students at the University of Iowa can call the UCS at (319) 335-7294 to schedule an appointment. To verify that you are eligible for services, check out our eligibility FAQ. If you are a faculty or staff member, counseling services are provided through the UI Employee Assistance Program at (319) 335-2085. Students are required to make their own appointments. Find out more about UCS services and appointment types at https://counseling.uiowa.edu/services/appointments/
It may be dauting to call us. But please know that the scheduling process is straightforward, and our support staff is very helpful in walking you through the appointment options and required paperwork. We care about you and are here to support you.
Calling is not the only option for scheduling. You may come to our offices to schedule an appointment in-person. If you’d like to speak with a therapist who can answer your questions about mental health and facilitate scheduling, please feel free to drop-in one of the Let’s Talk, Hawks! programs (see details in Receiving Mental Health Information Without Making an Appointment Section).
If you are in a crisis or need support outside of our office hours (8 am to 5 pm, Mon to Fri), please call or text the UI Support and Crisis Line at 844-461-5420 or chat with them online at here.
As an international student, English may not be your first language. English proficiency is not a requirement for counseling and our staff would love to work with you if you speak English as a second language. A few of our therapists have international experiences and can provide services in Chinese or Spanish. You may request a Chinese- or Spanish-speaking therapist for your appointment.
We have a strong commitment to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. We strive to create space where all feel welcome, including international students.
Receiving Mental Health Information Without Making an Appointment:
You may receive mental health information without making an appointment at the UCS by coming to our outreach programs, following our social media accounts, or subscribing to our newsletter or podcast.
We have four kinds of outreach programs at the UCS:
- Live programs (https://counseling.uiowa.edu/students/university-counseling-service-is-here-for-you/virtual-programming-support-and-outreach-services/live-psychoeducational-programming/) are provided live via Zoom and focused on skills teaching. These are psychoeducational programs, not therapy.
- Let’s Talk, Hawks! (https://counseling.uiowa.edu/students/services/lets-talk-hawks/ ) is a drop-in consultation service offered by the University Counseling Service (UCS). It provides you with an opportunity to have an informal, confidential, anonymous conversation with a UCS therapist. You can share your mental health concerns, work on problem-solving together, learn about useful campus and community resources, or ask questions about counseling and UCS.
- Support Groups (https://counseling.uiowa.edu/students/university-counseling-service-is-here-for-you/virtual-programming-support-and-outreach-services/support-groups/ ) are spaces for people to connect with those who share similar experiences.
- Self-Paced Resources (https://counseling.uiowa.edu/students/university-counseling-service-is-here-for-you/virtual-programming-support-and-outreach-services/coping-through-covid-19-self-paced-resources/ ) are mental health resources that you can read and watch at your own pace.
We are active on a few social media platforms where we routinely post content about mental health topics, coping skills, updates about UCS services, and community resources.
- Instagram: @uiowaucs
- Facebook: @uiowaucs
- The UCS Newsletter: Shrink Rap. It contains campus resources and tips for minding your mental health. You may subscribe by entering your email address at the bottom of the webpage (https://counseling.uiowa.edu/about/shrink-rap/ ).
- The UCS Podcast: Therapists are People!? The podcast talks about mental health beyond the therapy couch. We hope to bring you curious, thought-provoking, honest, humble, vulnerable perspectives about mental health and wellbeing. You can find out more about the podcast at https://counseling.uiowa.edu/podcast/
Insurance and Private Therapists:
When you meet with a private therapist, there are typically no session limits for therapy. Your therapist is likely to bill your insurance, and depending on your insurance benefits, you may need to pay some fees like a copay.
UCS offers case management appointments to assist students in figuring out their insurance plans and find a private therapist. You may call us at 319-335-7294 to meet with a case manager if you’re enrolled and currently located in the U.S.
If you are insured through the University of Iowa, your insurance card will say UI Gradcare, SHIP, or UIChoice. Your dependents (spouse/partner and/or children) may use the same insurance for therapy if you’ve added them to your insurance plan (see information about enrollment and adding dependents at https://hr.uiowa.edu/benefits/benefits-overview-and-enrollment/benefits-offered-group/ui-student-insurance/enrollment) These plans use the Blue Cross/Blue Shield provider network, and no session limits or prior authorization required.
- UIChoice and UIGradcare have no copay or coinsurance for in-network providers, meaning that you don’t need to pay anything out of pocket for your sessions. Your providers will bill your insurance, and you’ll receive an itinerary each month.
- SHIP has a $10 copay for in-network providers, meaning that you pay $10 for each session you meet with a therapist. Similarly, your providers will bill your insurance, and you’ll receive an itinerary each month.
- Several private therapists in the community are in-network and bilingual or trilingual. If you have preference for a private therapist who speaks Mandarin-Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Spanish, French, Russian, Lithuanian, or Turkish, you may reach out to the UCS and ask for referral information.
If you have a different type of insurance than what is listed above, you should call your insurance provider to double-check your benefits for therapy. How much the cost of counseling is covered, is determined by your specific insurance plan. You may read this article for tips for calling your insurance company: https://counseling.uiowa.edu/students/university-counseling-service-is-here-for-you/guide-to-finding-a-therapist-in-the-community/
If You’re Currently Located Outside of the U.S:
Unfortunately, due to limitations in our professional licenses, UCS clinicians are unable to provide clinical services to students when they are physically located outside of the state of Iowa and the United States, even if they are enrolled in online classes.
Students are welcome to attend any of our virtual programming regardless of where they are located. Follow this link to see a current list of programming.
We are attempting to compile information that may be useful to students located in other countries who are seeking mental health support. This is not a comprehensive list, and we will continue to update as we become aware of additional resources.
- International Therapist Directory
- (Please note that mental health resources vary greatly from country to country. UCS did not create, and does not maintain, this website, and cannot guarantee all resources remain consistently updated. Please also note that not all countries and locations are represented in this directory.)
- International suicide hotlines/emergency phone numbers and online crisis chats: https://www.suicidestop.com/call_a_hotline.html
- (Please note that mental health and emergency resources vary greatly from country to country. UCS did not create, and does not maintain, this website, and cannot guarantee all resources remain consistently updated.)
- Detailed Guide to Find a Qualified Counselor in China (in Chinese)
- For students in South Korea:
- Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hours): 1393
- Mental Health Crisis Hotline (24 hours): 1577-0199
- Life line (24 hours): 1588-9191 / www.lifeline.or.kr
- JoongAng(central) Suicide Prevention Center: 82-2-2203-0053 / spckorea.or.kr
- Seoul Suicide Prevention Center: 82-2-3458-1000 / suicide.or.kr
- Gyeonggi-do Suicide Prevention Center: 82-31-212-0437 / mindsave.org
- Gangwon-Do Suicide Prevention Center: 82-33-251-1970 / gwmh.or.kr
- Gwangju Suicide Prevention Center: 82-62-600-1930 / gmhc.kr
- Incheon Suicide Prevention Center: 82-32-468-9911 / imhc.or.kr:6032
- Daegu Suicide Prevention Center: 82-53-256-0199 / dgmhc.or.kr
- Busan Suicide Prevention Center: 82-51-242-2575 / suicide.busaninmaum.com
- Support Center for a family who has lost their family member to suicide: Korea Psychological Autopsy center; 82-2-555-1095 / psyauto.or.kr / warmdays.co.kr
- For students in Nigeria:
- Global community of Mental Health Innovators: https://www.mhinnovation.net/resources
- Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI): https://www.mhinnovation.net/collaborations
- Asido Foundation: The Birth of a Mental Health Advocacy Organization in Nigeria https://iacapap.org/asido-foundation-the-birth-of-an-innovative-non-profit-mental-health-advocacy-organization-in-nigeria/
These resources are NOT comprehensive. If you’d like to share mental health resources that you know from other countries, please click here and we’ll update the resources on the webpage.
If you have any edits or suggestions for the existing resources, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- International Therapist Directory
Coping through COVID as International Students
Following this link (https://mentalhealth.uiowa.edu/recovery/the-international-community/ ) for information about the impact of the pandemic, resources for international students to navigate visa issues related to COVID, and tips for supporting the international community’s mental wellbeing.