A Q&A with Ryan Daily
Ryan Daily wants you to be the best version of yourself. As a licensed professional counselor and the new life management counselor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Daily brings an innovative service to the college: in-house, no-cost and confidential mental health counseling for undergraduate students along with counseling consulting for faculty and staff.
With more than 15 years of counseling experience, Daily provides mental health services within CALS to go along with the other established student support services such as academic advising and the CALS Career Center. By putting the right resources where the students are, he believes CALS sets students up for success personally, academically and professionally.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Arizona, but lived near Liverpool, UK as a child and in Chicago, IL while playing collegiate soccer. I lived in Massachusetts (where my wife is from) for eight years, but we decided to move back to Arizona after too many cold winters, and now we live in Tucson with our three sons.
Before I came to the University of Arizona, I was at Pima Community College as a mental health counselor and faculty member for five years. This dual role allowed me to promote student mental wellness, both one-on-one with students and in the classroom. I especially enjoyed guiding Arizona transfer students while teaching the Pima transfer STU 210 course.
What are you most excited about being in CALS?
I feel my interests match up very well with the college—I am very interested in sustainability (big fan of Tesla) and passionate about personal finance. As a counselor, I appreciate how good personal finance skills tie into personal resiliency. It’s exciting to see that CALS has the Personal & Family Financial Planning major that prepares students in this crucial area.
Can you give an elevator pitch about your position and why it’s important to CALS?
I believe that my role encourages the de-stigmatization of mental health issues by embedding no-cost counseling services within CALS, along with other academic student support services.
We hope not only to increase mental health counseling access for CALS students, but also increase the speed of how quickly students receive counseling services. I want to more rapidly support students in their time of need, removing barriers like time or money that keep them from addressing their mental health concerns.
The other part of my job is consulting—if CALS faculty or staff have student concerns, I am available to listen and collaboratively develop strategies promoting student wellbeing and academic success. I’m also available to consult with any faculty and staff if they have general questions or concerns around mental health topics.
You mentioned the stigma of mental health. How does your position work to fight the stigma?
I like to think that my embedded counseling role increases the normalizing of our mental health.
As students access counseling services within CALS, I believe students will see this as just another wonderful resource CALS provides. There should be no stigmas associated with being healthy, period.
Some of us tend to live very privately, struggling with mental health concerns, but thankfully research shows that younger generations are much more comfortable discussing their mental health struggles. That gives me a lot of hope.
What is something about your position students might not know?
Life management counseling is not just for students who are in crisis or have big problems.
Part of my counselor role also includes assisting students with “performance enhancement”—finding solutions to improve your sleep, overcoming social anxiety with public speaking and networking, boosting time management skills, increasing relationship skills, reducing test anxiety and much more.
It doesn’t need to be anything severe (but if it is, I’m ready to address any serious issues), we can simply focus on overcoming any personal challenges you would like to conquer. No problem is too small.
Can you give us a play-by-play of what a counseling appointment with you looks like?
The first step is what we call an intake, essentially an interview (right now over Zoom or phone but eventually in-person) to understand the student’s concerns. It’s all about understanding the student holistically—emotionally, socially, culturally, physically, financially, spiritually, etc.
Next, we discuss goals for counseling. It is important that goals are transparent and collaborative. After all, students really are the experts on their own lives.
I often get feedback from students that one of the best parts of counseling is having a professional who can provide an objective perspective. It can be sometimes difficult to get that from friends and family.
It all comes down to providing students with positive and unconditional support, free of judgement.
Any tips for this stressful time during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic?
One tip is to invest in practicing a self-care plan. I know this is a trendy topic, but I frame it as: developing personalized routines that sustain and nourish you. I need to remember to do this for myself all the time! You can find more tips here.
I would also say that during this time of great stress and uncertainty, let’s remember that it is healthy to be vulnerable and real with each other. The more we can openly share how this pandemic is affecting us, the better we will be able to identify with and support one another.
For my family and me, we haven’t left the house in almost two weeks because one of us is considered high risk. We are learning to adjust to new routines including homeschooling young kids and working from home. This has been stressful at times but practicing a self-care plan has made these changes much more manageable. And while it’s important to stay informed about the pandemic, I remind myself to limit the news and social media and channel my angst into more uplifting activities.
We are all stressed and struggling on different levels. Remember its O.K. to admit it to others and by doing so, in and of itself, this will build solidarity. I appreciate President Robbin's recent video to the university community where he shared his own struggles with stress due to this pandemic and how he emphasized the importance of taking care of your mental health. Bear Down!