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Dimensions of Wellness

BBSP supports students by promoting UNC’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Explore each of these dimensions to learn more about what resources are available to support your complete self. For mental health support including how to contact our Embedded Counselor, see the “Emotional” tab below.

Be sure to check out the many wellness resources available from UNC as well:

UNC students, alums, and postdocs are also creating spaces for scientists of all levels to connect over topics of research, life, and wellness:

  • PhD Balance, a community empowering graduate students, founded by Susanna Harris (Microbiology & Immunology PhD candidate)
  • PhDivas podcast, co-hosted by Liz Wayne, PhD (UNC postdoc)

Graduate school is rigorous and demanding. Many graduate students struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness during their training. While it is common to experience these issues, you don’t have to suffer. With help you can manage your symptoms and live a balanced, fulfilling life.  Below are a few of the options available to BBSP graduate students.  If you are unsure where to turn, you may reach out to Dave McDonald ( or 919-843-3387) for a consultation. While Dave is not a trained mental health provider, he is able to direct students to appropriate resources.

Embedded Counselor: To schedule an appointment with our Embedded Counselor, Zoe Silverman, email her at Available services include an initial assessment of needs, individualized treatment planning for reported concerns, initiating engagement in brief therapy, connection to group therapy services, medication management, and referral coordination. Services are offered both in-person and telehealth. Flexible hours are available. For crisis or 24/7 support, call UNC CAPS at 919-966-3658 or call/text 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Embedded Counseling FAQs

What is the embedded counseling program?

Embedded Counselors are licensed clinicians employed by UNC CAPS and designated to work with a designated school at UNC. Counselors offer brief therapy and also help students get connected to ongoing therapy, medication management, and other resources. Counselors work with students on a range of issues including anxiety, adjustment, academic stress, imposter syndrome, relationships, grief, and other concerns. Appointments are offered in-person and through telehealth. Night and weekend hours are available if needed.

How do I get connected?


What happens once I reach out?

You will receive an email response with scheduling options for your initial assessment appointment. At that visit, you can discuss your concerns and strategize with the counselor around next steps to best to support you. These initial meetings generally take place within a few days. If you are in crisis and need immediate support, walk into CAPS, call 919-966-3568 (24/7), or contact emergency services.

What is brief therapy? Are there session limits?

In brief therapy, you and your counselor will discuss the challenges you are facing and identify specific treatment goals to work on together to address those challenges. While there are not session limits, brief therapy focuses on goals that can be meaningfully addressed in weeks to months, rather than months to years. Often, students will meet with an embedded counselor for brief therapy around a specific issue, and then get connected to open-ended therapy to address broader or more ongoing concerns.

Are there costs when I meet with an embedded counselor?

No, your insurance is not billed and there is never any cost associated with meeting with an embedded counselor.

Where is our counselor’s office located?

The first floor of the Bioinformatics Building in the Office of Graduate Education.

UNC Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): In addition to our BBSP-specific Embedded Counselor, students can also go directly to CAPS to be seen for urgent needs without an appointment for counseling or medication management. CAPS is located on the 3rd floor of the Student Health Clinic. If you do not know where CAPS is located or are uncomfortable walking over there on your own, Dave McDonald and others in the OGE are available to walk with you. In addition, CAPS has a phone line that is available 24/7 for immediate needs, and you can find out how to contact them on their website.

Toxicology Mental Health Emergency Fund: Students in the CiTEM PhD program can be reimbursed for mental health services. See this page for more information.

Heels Care Network: The Heels Care Network website is a place for all Tar Heels — undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and post-docs, as well as faculty and staff — to come together in support of each other and access the many mental health and well-being resources at Carolina. It is a gateway for mental health and wellness resources for everyone on campus: to find a support group, learn strategies for mental health, connect with trainings and advocacy organizations or find wellness events on campus.

BBSP Virtual Mindfulness Room: If you need to take a break, explore the different interactives in this virtual space.

Other resources outside of UNC-CH

The Graduate School Handbook: All policies and procedures set forth by the UNC Graduate School, the unit which governs all BBSP-affiliated PhD programs. Below are direct links to some commonly requested policies.


Accessibility Resource Center: ARS is an office dedicated to supporting students in academic settings with physical disabilities, learning differences, accommodations for medical conditions, and other accessibility concerns. If you believe you need an accommodation in class or in lab, you must self-identify with ARS before anything can be put in place.  ARS can also help you navigate testing for ADHD or other learning differences. For workplace accommodations see the EOC Accommodations page.

The Learning Center: UNC’s Learning Center support students in their academic pursuits. Academic coaching can help any student get organized approaching lab work, reading papers, or create a study plan for your qualifying exams. If you have ADHD, or if you think you might, consider participating in the Graduate Student Working Group which is focused on time management, work life balance, motivation, and accountability (register here or for more information, email Miranda Elston). If you do have ADHD or a learning difference, read more about the ADHD/LD services available to you or make an appointment with an ADHD specialist who can help you navigate graduate school and maximize your success.

The Writing Center:  UNC’s Writing Center supports student writing in a variety of ways. All UNC students can schedule an in-person appointment with a writing coach or submit writing samples to an online coach who will provide specific feedback. This set of guides on scientific writing can be helpful to those who want to improve their writing skills. International students for whom English is a second language can access a wide variety of resources including writing groups, courses, and speaking groups. All international students will want to check out these guides for helpful ESL tips on academic writing.

Health Sciences Library: a hub for research and learning, HSL offers classes, resources, and consultations. Be sure to check out their helpful online guides too, such as designing academic posters.

UNC Chapel Hill resources




Fellowship Support

The OGE offers training and resources to help graduate students prepare successful funding applications. Some of these resources include:

  • F31 and NSF preparation workshops: these are announced via the TIBBS listserv and are open to all trainees
  • Successful graduate student grant proposal examples (click here for a password protected library containing NSF, F31, and American Heart Association proposals from UNC trainees)

Other resources

  • Personal Finance for PhDs: a blog and several reasonably priced ebooks about managing finances while on a graduate student stipend

Cultivating a network of friends and colleagues is an important strategy for success as a professional. UNC has a wide variety of communities available to graduate students, some focused around STEM and some around other identities.


UNC Centers that support student communities

A list of Chapel Hill’s religious centers can be found here.






Health Insurance: graduate students are covered by a combination of Campus Health Services and Student Blue RA/TA plan. Read this flyer [pdf] for a quick overview of how the two work together. For information about what the Student Blue plan covers, and for information on adding dependents, visit the BCBS Student Blue page.





TIBBS Career Cohorts (groups focused on specific science careers)






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