Letter to the Editor: 2022 Means Easier Access for Students for OspreyPERCH and UNF Counseling Center Programs

Maxine Christie, OspreyPERCH Administrative Coordinator

Osprey PERCH (Prevention Early Intervention, Resiliency Through Counseling and Holistic Health) is a clinical training program used to help students address a variety of needs for counseling. This program is very different from traditional counseling and intervention programs because it combines UNF interprofessional academic resources from the Brooks College of Health to address campus-wide mental and physical health and students’ wellness needs in collaboration with other campus partners. PERCH is a wonderful place to land especially for those who might be struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral health, conduct or academic issues. The philosophy of PERCH is based on the four A’s: authenticity, availability, affability, and ability. It is based on a philosophical premise that; we are a community, and we must take responsibility for ourselves, and our neighbors and that each member of the community is valuable. The program was created to provide holistic mental health services with graduate student counselors and interns in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Social Work and Public Health.  The program uses a model of primary, secondary, and tertiary intervention in a fun, engaging, and clinically sound method of meeting the students where they are, both figuratively and literally. OspreyPERCH is hoping to improve student perception of campus community support and personal experience in receiving help. An anticipated benefit of this program is to expand the “safety-net” to identify and sufficiently respond to students of concern who could pose a risk to not only themselves but others in the campus community before reaching a crisis point.  It is extremely important to PERCH and the campus community for there to be convenient community-based resources available to assist those students who need help in order to thrive.

Students learn how animal-assisted interventions help counselors break down barriers when people are feeling nervous about exams or other life issues. Here, Hooper, a Golden Retriever who is a member of Campus Canines, demonstrates how to bring a smile to a students’ face. (Osprey PERCH/UNF)

PERCH’s office is located in Building 4 Room 2800. While the program doesn’t accept walk-ins there are service centers all across campus in various areas where students live, work, play and already seek help. These service centers include Residence Life (ResLife), Student Health Services (SHS), Eco-Adventures/Adventure Based Counseling (ABC), Athletics/Mental Performance, and LGBTQ Center, while also serving the Dean of Students (DOS). OspreyPERCH has other services and partners as well that students are able to use as a resource. Some of the other services and partners PERCH has include animal-assisted therapy and interventions with Campus Canines, equine-assisted interventions, integrative behavioral health with Exercise is Medicine and Food is Medicine national initiatives. Being embedded across campus is important for PERCH to have these sites all over campus to make it as accessible and convenient as possible for students so they are able to receive the help they might be seeking. Although PERCH is known for the different services it provides, it is founded on strong evidence-based counseling principles and practices including students receiving services, receiving a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment and holistic service planning assisting students beyond treating illness, but supporting them in being truly well. 

The zip line at UNF helps students learn teamwork and trust during a session at Adventure-Based Counseling. (Osprey PERCH/UNF)

The other resources provided by OspreyPERCH, such as Campus Canines and equine therapy, allow there to be an integration of spirituality, creativity, animals, and nature to connect the students to the integrative elements which include expressive art, yoga, and meditation. This helps develop a sense of companionship, community, connection, and resiliency. The animal-assisted services and equine therapy that PERCH offers are used to provide a therapeutic space for students who might not be as comfortable with traditional talk therapy or for whom the talk therapy approach is not effective. OspreyPERCH provides support to enhance UNF’s already existing Counseling Center and Student Health Services. To contact us, you are able to email us at [email protected] or call at (904)620-4325. Students needing immediate assistance or prefer a more traditional office environment are encouraged to seek services from the Counseling Center. They are located in Building 2 Room 2300 and students can make an appointment with the counseling center through their website or walk in during business hours in the event of an urgent need. If you are struggling and need help, there are great resources on campus to support our students. Please allow PERCH, the Counseling Center, Student Health Services, the Dean of Students Office, or any student service department know you need assistance. We are all here to “Swoop” in to keep everyone thriving in the nest.

Editor’s Note: Readers are encouraged to submit a ‘Letter to the Editor’ for publication with Spinnaker. Spinnaker does not endorse any of the contents of a ‘Letter to the Editor.’ 


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