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After not offering counseling services for a year, Indigo Peer Counseling announced that it will once again provide counseling in the fall 2017 semester.
The group, which specializes in addressing issues related to race, class, and first-generation status went on hiatus last fall after it failed to meet the number of required counselors set by Harvard University Health Services for its peer counseling groups. Indigo has spent the last year periodically hosting outreach events with other peer counseling and cultural affinity groups and recruiting additional staff members.
Indigo stopped providing counseling because of a staffing shortage. Aakriti Prasai ’18, director of Indigo, pointed to a shift in leadership and lack of commitment over the summer as problems.
“We weren’t as ready as we could be and we didn’t want to present ourselves to the Harvard community without being fully ready,” Prasai said.
While Indigo originally planned to return during the spring semester, they ultimately decided to delay opening their peer counseling services in order to grow and train their staff.
“Logistics were quite hard. People were on J-term trips and things like that. So we realized, let’s really try and focus on getting our name out this semester and come the fall, go out and do what we intended to do,” Prasai said.
In addition to the training Harvard requires of all peer counselors, Indigo’s staff members will undergo additional activities to prepare them to serve people from diverse backgrounds such as “reading op-eds The Crimson or other publications have published” and inviting leaders from various communities to speak.
The group also decided to take some time to re-envision Indigo’s goals and role in the mental health community.
“It was a bit difficult because in a lot of the communities we tried to reach out to and that we are specialized to help serve…mental health is very stigmatized,” Prasai said. “Maybe our better mission should be is to make sure our service is more known about and make sure we have more events where we can get better and talk about things.”
Most recently, Indigo participated in Mental Health Week, hosted by the Student Mental Health Liaisons. Indigo hosted “Reflect and Look Forward” on Sunday to give students a chance to contemplate the past semester.
In the fall, Prasai said Indigo plans to offer various workshops and conversations in addition to peer counseling.
“Something that we’re thinking about for next semester is really targeting first-year students and maybe having informal chats like these on what it’s like being away from home, what it’s like looking for an internship,” she said.
According to an emailed statement from Chief of Counseling and Mental Health Services Barbara Lewis, Indigo will occupy its former space in Adams House H Entryway, and “a Harvard University Health Services Counseling and Mental Health Services counselor will continue to supervise the group.”
Prasai emphasized her belief in Indigo’s mission and stated that she “really wants to push it so it can blossom.”
“Logistically things will be difficult but we will be there next year,” she said.
—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.
—Staff writer Dianne Lee can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @diannelee_.
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