November 2021

UNT RHS interim chair offers student tips on stress management

More than 50 percent of college students report feeling concerned about their mental health. Dr. Sharma says minimizing stress can help.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – According to Inside Higher Ed, 58 percent of college students say they were “moderately,” “very” or “extremely” concerned about their mental health. Dr. Rachita Sharma, interim chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services (RHS) in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service says managing stress can help improve mental health and well-being. Dr. Sharma offers the following tips for UNT students to help manage stress.

Tip 1: Learn to manage your time wisely.
“Feeling overwhelmed or imbalanced by all your responsibilities? Develop good time management habits to avoid procrastination and make the most of your minutes,” Dr. Sharma says. “Having a detailed schedule for each day that blocks out time for classes, homework, and studying as well as any personal tasks (and sticking to that schedule) can be very helpful!”

Tip 2: Nourish your body with adequate sleep and proper nutrition.
“Think of yourself as a houseplant,” says Dr. Sharma. “You need proper nutrition and rest to thrive. While sleep procrastination is a reality for many of us, chronic sleep deprivation causes anxiety and makes it harder for you to concentrate and be productive. Make sleep and good nutrition a priority. Your brain will feel clearer and your body will feel better overall.”

Tip 3: Break down big tasks into smaller steps.
“How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece!” explains Dr. Sharma. “This tip goes hand-in-hand with managing your time. Huge projects or other to-dos can create stress, but dividing those projects into manageable chunks and assigning due dates to each of those milestones will make you feel in control and help you avoid unhelpful anxiety.”

Tip 4: Practice self-care, daily!
“Looming deadlines, difficult class material, or an overflowing plate can each cause panic to creep into the brain,” explains Dr. Sharma. “It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed or overly upset and have access to a few reliable methods to calm yourself down and feel better. Try yoga, meditation, and visualization techniques.” She also adds, “If you need help dealing with anxiety or stress, reach out to the Counseling and Testing Services center or the UNTWELL clinic on campus. That’s what they’re here for!”

Tip 5: Make time for fun.
Dr. Sharma says, “Get outside, join a club that sounds enjoyable, go to the gym or on a hike, practice a new hobby, or meet a friend for coffee. Smiles and laughter are valuable for the body–they help release endorphins in your brain and relax stressed muscles.”

Tip 6: Build your tribe (aka, support system).
“Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling nervous about that upcoming test or project,” Sharma explains. “Sometimes, bonding with your classmates is a good way to feel better about what’s in front of you. Knowing you are not alone can ease anxiety and actually help you perform better!”

Tip 7: Set boundaries when needed.
Finally, Dr. Sharma explains, “Take care of YOU. Prioritize yourself by learning how to say NO when tired. Don’t let #FOMO drive you when fatigued: Instead, embrace #JOMO (joy of missing out) when needed.”

For more information on UNT mental health resources, visit Speak Out UNT, a web resource with valuable information for students.

UNT launches Addiction Studies degree to address rising need for substance use services

In 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported about 20 million people in the United States indicated struggling with a substance use disorder the prior year.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The new bachelor of science degree in Addiction Studies in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS) Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services prepares students for careers working with people with addiction, those at risk, those in recovery and allies. Opportunities in the profession exist in hospitals, community agencies, schools, the judicial system, state and federal government organizations, recovery homes, detoxication programs, and private and public treatment programs.

“Sadly, addiction is not declining, so the need for counselors and auxiliary staff to treat the disorder is greater than it has ever been,” says Paula Heller Garland, addiction studies program coordinator and senior lecturer. “Our program equips students with the necessary skills to do the jobs available in the profession. Much like our program, the addiction profession is diverse. Addiction does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, religion or gender identity. This diversity is reflected in our students, as well. We have students from all walks of life, those entering college from high school and non-traditional aged students who are making a mid-life career change. There is a place for everyone in the addiction studies program at UNT.”

The degree, which requires 36-credit hours in the major, provides a broad perspective of addiction studies, and meets all of the State of Texas requirements for licensure as a Chemical Dependency Counselor.

Students may choose from a wide variety of courses, including topics such as: •

  • Addiction
  • Addiction Counseling Theories
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Current Issues in Substance Use
  • Professionalism and Ethics

Students may also opt to minor in or receive a certificate in addiction studies.

For more information on the new Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies, visit call (940) 565-2488, or email .

UNT audiology program aims to protect high school musicians’ hearing

The project, titled “Music and Hearing Conservation,” is geared toward area band and orchestra students.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Dr. Amanda Labue, Senior Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS) Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and doctoral student Lauren Davis have developed a presentation that covers the following topics:

  • General overview of the profession of audiology
  • Facts about noise exposure and potential hearing damage that can be caused by repeated exposure to musical instruments
  • Ways to help prevent or slow hearing damage by using proper ear protection including custom fitted Musician’s Ear Plugs (MEPs)

They have been visiting North Texas high schools to share the information in hopes of preventing hearing loss in young musicians.

“I hope that the students we are targeting will understand that the gift of hearing is precious and cannot be mended or repaired once lost,” Dr. Labue said. “The presentations cover topics that help to educate them not only on the importance of using these protective devices during band or orchestra practice/performance, but we also cover healthy hearing practices in their everyday routine. AirPod use, car stereos, lawn equipment, fire arms, even daily dining in the school cafeteria can all add up over time to cause hearing problems later in life.”

Dr. Labue says she, Davis and others in the UNT Speech and Hearing Clinic work with many students from the UNT College of Music programs, and when completing their hearing tests prior to doing the Musician’s Earplug Evaluations, they find that even the college-aged students are showing early warning signs of hearing damage.

“So, we thought that educating and getting the idea of hearing protective devices on the radar of students even younger might help minimize some of this damage that they are potentially causing during their time in high school band and orchestra,” Labue said.

Dr. Labue and Davis have worked with high school band and orchestra students in Lewisville, Grapevine/Colleyville, Hurst/Euless/Bedford, Fort Worth and Allen ISDs, but they hope to eventually expand it to other programs, including middle schools.

For more information, email Dr. Labue at