The University of North Texas at Dallas had a special group of visitors on campus, with students from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PCUPR) taking part in a week-long (June 18 – June 22) mental health awareness retreat.

Spearheaded by UNT Dallas’ own Dr. Jennifer Baggerly, who is a professor in the department of Counseling and Human Services, the students were taught new therapy techniques to help the Puerto Rican community cope with the devastation of last September’s Hurricane Maria.

“For UNT Dallas to be able to reach out globally to Puerto Rico and to have impact on the mental health system within the country by training these students, who will then be able to help children heal is very meaningful to me,” said Baggerly. “I see this as part of social justice of being able to give to people who do not have the resources that they desperately need.”

Zulmarie Hernandez, who is an assistant professor at PCUPR, felt this retreat was a step in the right direction in helping the students overcome some mental hurdles to get help back to a sense of normalcy.

“Most of our students lost family members and plenty of material things due to the hurricane,” said Hernandez. “This kind of experience exposed them to giving to children and giving to teenagers is also therapeutic for them.”