Matoaka Kipp ’16 on Wellness Resources for All Simmons Students, On Campus and Online
What does the REEF Support Center offer?
I joined The REEF Support Center as Director when it opened in October 2021. It’s our mission to make foundational services and supports more accessible atSimmons, which includes services on campus and those within the greater Boston community. As the poet Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” We want the REEF to be a starting point for folks to say, “this is what’s going on with me, but I’m not sure what support looks like. What are my options?” We are here to provide students with those options.
Examples of the types of support we provide include:
- Food access for students who live on campus or commute, with or without a meal plan
- Housing access, including helping commuter students find housing, navigate issues with a landlord, or respond to an eviction
- Oversees SOS (Supporting Our Students) funds for students with immediate financial need. The SOS fund began in March 2020 with the support of the Simmons community, and offers immediate emergency assistance to cover a student’s foundational need, such as groceries, child care, transportation, or rent. Any student can apply, and the REEF oversees allocation of the funds, working closely with Student Financial Services to award them in an equitable way.
- The Violence Prevention, Education, and Outreach Office sits within the REEF Support Center and provides survivor support and connection with Betsy’s Friends, an on-campus student group.
In addition to these resources, REEF provides a variety of other resources for students. At its core,REEF is an acknowledgment that all of our experiences are complex and there are multiple pathways to well-being. The concept of REEF resonates with me because it intentionally diminishes barriers to support. Students can visit the office (A075, bottom floor of MCB, same floor as the Fens) or contact me directly as a starting point.
On campus students can also use the Counseling Center, Health, Wellness and Recreation, the Multicultural Center, the Center for Leadership & Engagement and the Health Center to support all of their physical and mental health needs.
What mental health services are available for online students?
As of January 2022, Student Affairs has partnered with ComPsych® to expand the reach of our wellness resources through GuidanceResources®, which can be accessed by undergraduate and graduate students on campus..Another resource, Perspectives, is hosted by 2U for undergraduate and graduate online students. An overview of these options are available on the Who Can Help? website.
GuidanceResources® provides 24/7 one-on-one support through phone and chat, connecting students to master’s level clinicians. Students, and anyone in their household, can have five free sessions with the clinician who represents the area where they live and can connect them to longer term support if needed. These resources are vetted and the support professionals can help you figure out what you need, expedite the process, and reduce stress. This doesn’t change a student's relationships with on campus support, but provides another tool for student agency and another way we can care for each other.
This SAP also offers:
- A free 30-minute consultation about any legal concerns, from navigating a landlord issue, immigration concerns, or questions about a traffic ticket. If needed, they will be outsourced for additional help.
- Financial advice, in addition to the current resources at Simmons.
- School-life solutions, which can apply to anything: how to plan a trip, search for an apartment, or find a bike repair shop.
You can connect to all of these resources 24/7 through the number on the website, which is specific to Simmons. There is no need to provide ID or any proof that you are a Simmons student.
Simmons has also debuted our “Who Can Help” Website. This site brings all of the student supports and services into one place – giving students and families quick access to resources around campus.
Any advice for students who have never sought counseling before?
We are all deserving of care and support, simply because we exist. By caring for ourselves, we can better take care of each other. The REEF Support Center is here to support you. Realizing that you can’t do this alone is a beautiful place to start. I learned this from my social work training at Simmons and my own struggle asking for support
We each have a strong sense of what we need, but may not have a clear idea of what might work. When a particular kind of support doesn’t work, it’s not a failure, it’s just not the right fit. REEF is a great starting point. My job is to lay out the options and partner with the student to find what they need. I’m partnering with current social work students, which is magical for me. My studies have come full circle, and Simmons is dear to my heart.