Lauren Marnel Shores
For the month of May, Counseling and Psychological Services will be hosting several events and workshops regarding overcoming stress as well as coping with transition and change for Mental Health Awareness Month.
On May 10th to 11th, “Envision Your Transition” will be taking place outside of the CAPS building from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mental health peers will be providing craft tables, photo booths, and resources on how to address students’ overwhelming transitions through spring quarter.
“We know that Spring, although it can be a really exciting time for a lot of our students, can also be a really big time for transitions, especially for people who are graduating, going abroad next fall, people who are figuring out relationships over the break, or going home for the first time after having been free for a while. So we wanted to talk about transitions,” explained Gladys Koscak, a mental health specialist with CAPS.
On May 19, there will be a special event on the Chemistry lawn from 10:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. to help students de-stress, especially as STEM majors move through their second round of midterms. There, students can relax as they make and play with DIY slime and stress balls.
The program was prompted by chemistry faculty member Bryanna Kunkel’s concern for mental wellness on campus, having seen so many of her chemistry students struggle with mounting anxiety in her classes. Kunkel hopes that this event will allow students to learn to take care of themselves, not merely before finals, but as an integrated part of their daily life.
“You’re so much more than your grades or the classes you’re taking,” she said.
The third event will take place on May 25 at 8:00 p.m. in Santa Catalina’s Fiesta Room, and will provide first generation students with the tools needed to transition back to home life after having been away at college.
“Parents don’t always understand what college life is like, and it’s difficult going back to those same roles. A lot of people come to campus and experience this ability to get support on campus, or started seeing a therapist, and it’s not something they can talk to family about just yet, so we’re helping navigate that transition,” said Koscak.
In addition, CAPS will be hosting its regular workshops for students to learn how to overcome school anxiety on May 18 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Elings Hall 1601, May 24 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the CAPS building, and May 31 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. in the CAPS building.
More than anything, Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity for students and staff to be reminded of the importance of mental wellness and re-emphasize the programs on campus designed to connect students to the proper resources they need to achieve it.
CAPS allows students to enjoy their free massage chairs or counseling services. While some have complained that it may take a few weeks to schedule an appointment with CAPS, they also offer same-day walk-in hours where there are 2-3 clinicians dedicated entirely to helping walk-in students, as well as a 24/7 hotline number for students in crisis.
“It’s no shock to anyone that CAPS is busy,” Koscak told The Bottom Line. “We hear from a lot of students that wait a really long time until they’re already in a crisis and say they would have come in a month or two ago, but would rather have saved that time for someone they felt needed it more. Really, what we want people to know is that wherever you’re at, it’s important enough to come in. Sometimes those messages that CAPS is overbooked, or too busy, can prevent more people from coming in, which is my biggest fear.”
Koscak stressed that while not every student may feel comfortable with counseling, there are other specialized organizations on campus that may suit students’ particular needs such as the Educational Opportunity Program counselors, Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education within the Women’s Center, or the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.