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Penn State Offering Mental Health Services for Racial Trauma

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In the midst of police brutality toward people of color, anti-Asian hate crimes, and racially motivated Zoom-bombings, Pennsylvania State University is providing mental health services to students dealing with racial trauma.

The Herr Clinic, run by Penn State’s Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education, has established a drop-in support group. The group has been set up to help students  — specifically Black, Indigenous, people of color, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders  — impacted by the recent spate of violence and hate-mongering nationwide.

Although the drop-in groups were designed to build community rather than as counseling groups, clinic coordinator Kristen Nadermann said she is glad their counselors are “helping to facilitate conversation” for students from underrepresented groups who may be traumatized by violence directed toward their communities.

Naderman also informed that the clinic has a lot of diverse counselors which helps them to support clients who are “requesting different languages or different kinds of identities.”

Further Plans

If all goes well, the Herr Clinic’s racial trauma resources will be incorporated into the Counselor Education curriculum. In the meantime, the department will strengthen clinic policies to ensure they are racially and culturally sensitive.

While the clinic is considering in-person meetings post-COVID, Nadermann believes telehealth services will help to extend the clinic’s reach to more students. “We don’t want people to be in pain but if people are in pain, we want them to be able to have a place where they can find support,” she said.

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