Q&A with Dr. Iglesias reveals plans for new CAPS position, provides mental wellness tips

Dr. Iglesias is a licensed clinical psychologist who joined the staff this semester. She previously worked in Colorado and California. She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and earned her M.S. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego. Dr. Iglesias is excited to be able to support students in their growth and passions as they learn to navigate life at U.Va. and beyond.

In her role at CAPS, Dr. Iglesias has begun to understand the context of cultural barriers with mental health services. This work has, so far, included meetings with student organizations as well as faculty/staff groups, as they are all “captive audiences” for such information. Dr. Iglesias is also bilingual and hopes to “help provide a bridge” to Spanish speakers. The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center recently welcomed Dr. Iglesias into the University, as the Center is a consistent collaborator with CAPS. We met with her, in anticipation of Mental Health Awareness Week, and to find out more about her current position and background.

Agnes Filipowski (Communications Assistant at the Women’s Center): What brought you to U.Va.?

Dr. Andrea Iglesias: I decided to come to U.Va. because I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity to work within such an incredible community. I was excited about the prospect of being able to collaborate with and learn from so many bright, successful and progressive faculty, staff and students. It is quite the privilege to be here!

AF: Based on your prior experiences in the University of Colorado, Boulder and San Diego State University, what are similarities and/or differences with the culture and/or atmosphere at U.Va.?

AI: I’ve […] found that there is a common thread between them all in that they all embrace a holistic model of education where students are encouraged to not just attend classes, but to also become engaged in the many different leadership, community and personal development opportunities the universities have to offer.

What stands out to me at U.Va. so far though, is the very strong sense of community here. It is clear to me that everyone at U.Va. is proud to be here and feels passionate about supporting the University in continuing to be not just a top tier university, but also a home and a community.

The University seems clearly grounded in a strong vision of creating well-rounded leaders who continue to contribute to U.Va. and our community at large during their time here and long after graduation. It’s been so wonderful to work within such a committed, tight-knit and caring community.

AF: Describe your position as the first Assistant Director of Outreach at CAPS.

AI: I joined the CAPS staff here in Student Health last August in the newly created role of Assistant Director for Outreach and Liaison Programming. CAPS has long been doing terrific work across Grounds providing education and support. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help CAPS expand our role even further within Grounds by building the current strengths within our staff and services, building more partnerships throughout the University, and continuing to nurture and grow the already successful collaborations and efforts with so many on-Grounds constituents.

Our vision here at CAPS includes helping students to develop skills and to maintain good mental health so that they can be even more successful here at U.Va. and beyond. For many students, counseling can be a terrific option to get support or to nurture their personal development, but we also want to make wellness resources as accessible and available as possible to all students at U.Va.

Students will be facing all sorts of new and exciting opportunities and challenges here from adjusting to new environments, exploring identity issues, or learning how to become who they want to be personally, academically and professionally.  We want to help provide the tools needed for them to learn how to navigate these challenges, get the most out of their experiences, be healthy and thrive.

AF: What are you most looking forward to doing/accomplishing within your position?

AI: I also have a strong passion for social justice and I’m excited to work closely with members of the U.Va. community who share in the mission of continuing to create a more inclusive Grounds climate that gives everyone an increased opportunity to be successful here at U.Va.

Tips for Mental Health Awareness from Dr. Iglesias

  1. Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get the word out about what it means to not just be physically healthy, but to also be mentally and emotionally healthy. These are all important components in helping us reach our full potential. CAPS will be hosting a Mental Health Wellness Day event where we will be doing mental health screenings to help students explore different aspects of their mental health, providing wellness resources, and engaging with students who may want to learn something new, take a break, join one of our fun interactive activities, get some free pizza, and/or ask questions around anything related to mental health.
  2. Part of building good mental health is being gentle with ourselves and giving ourselves time to adjust to new situations, environments, and experiences. Whether a student is a first year or a fourth year, we all experience life changes and new challenges that can bring about excitement, but also stress, anxiety and uncertainty. It is important for us to give ourselves time to adjust and to focus on how we can best take care of ourselves so that we can better navigate the new experiences, but also be successful and grow.
  3. So my encouragement is to do the things that we know help keep your body healthy, increase your energy level and even improve your mood: Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep! Creating a structure or a routine that includes these as a regular part of the schedule will help in having the resources to tackle even the toughest tasks.
  4. It is also very important to build on and nurture your support system- whatever that looks like for you. Stay in touch with family, make plans with friends, take a risk and push yourself to meet new people, find student organizations to get involved in, visit different student events and advocacy centers, and work on building your own sense of community here at U.Va. If you’re feeling down, overly stressed, or stuck, talk it out with others.  You might find that you are not alone in how you feel and even get some great advice or support.
  5. Lastly, I would encourage students to take their time in figuring out what is going to be the best fit for them here at U.Va. before they start committing to everything or loading up their schedules and plates too quickly. We don’t want you to burn out! I know there can be a lot of pressure to be a standout and to be a high achiever quickly which can lead to taking on too much. We want you to be successful here, but it could really be worth it to tailor your own experience here to what you feel best reflects your goals, what would make your time here most meaningful, and what is most conducive to your mental and emotional health. Try not to compare yourself to others, and create your own path and experience here at U.Va.
  6. And don’t forget, CAPS is here to help. Students come see us at CAPS for a wide range of issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, academic skill support, relationships, identity concerns, adjustment, and learning better ways to be successful and healthy. To speak to a CAPS counselor, call us at (434) 243-5150 and check out our information and resources on our website. Check out our workshops and groups which are provided here at Student Health or across Grounds as other great ways to learn new skills and get some support.

To contact Dr. Iglesias directly, please email her at ai3y@virginia.edu or call her at (434) 243-5150.