As more students seek help with mental health, University provides variety of resources

Samantha Ye

More students are getting help for mental health on campus, but experts say that’s a good thing. 

From July 1-Dec. 31, 2017, 141 students who were identified to be in crisis received consultation and coordinated crisis responses, and 8,967 students and staff were supported through Student Case Management, Health Network counseling and spiritual care services, according to data on the state of mental health on campus released by the University last week. 

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The number of students getting counseling follows a national trend of increasing awareness about mental health, said Janelle Patrias, manager of mental health initiatives.

“To me, that’s such a great sign that students are really embracing the idea that you need help, you get help, and we’re really encouraged by these numbers,” Patrias said.

Student Case Management specializes in helping students in crisis situations connect with campus and community resources and communicate with their professors.

Counseling services includes individual and couples counseling, group workshops and a 24/7 crisis intervention for those seeking immediate help. They saw 15,865 student appointments the last six months of 2017, according to CSU’s data.

By paying student fees, all students get five free sessions of individual or couples counseling per semester. Patrias said further sessions cost about $10. 

According to the Health Network website, additional charges also apply if a person needs psychological testing, specialty counseling services, mandated substance abuse counseling or missing or canceling an appoint day of. The services are confidential.

Other CSUHN groups and workshops are free for students.

Patrias said University research shows finances are the second top stressor for students right after academics. CSU has a commitment to reduce as many financial barriers to mental health resources as possible, according to Patrias.

For staff and faculty, the Office of Ombuds, which specializes in workplace disputes, and the Employee Assistance Program, which is for counseling, legal advice, financial planning and work-life balance support, are available. 485 faculty used those resources.  

Since counseling may not be for everyone, the University ensures there are a variety of resources available for all groups, according to Lanai Greenhalgh, director of the Office of Ombuds and EAP.

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“We wouldn’t want anyone to ever feel like they needed support or needed services and didn’t know where to go or didn’t believe there was something that might help them,” Greenhalgh said.

The University hopes to communicate that encouragement to seek help by sending out the mental health data, Patrias said.

“This past academic year has been difficult for our campus,” Patrias said. “And, we really wanted to send a communication out to really encourage anyone on our campus community to reach out if they were struggling.”

Preventative Care

The data also included information on a number of University preventive and educational resources for mental health.

YOU@CSU, one of the more prominent resources for students, had over 6,800 visits to the portal, according to CSU data. The online portal gives students personalized content to learn how to take care of their mental and physical health, as well as connect students to campus resources.

Patrias said 87 percent of users learn about a new campus resource through the portal.

Students can also participate or be invited to participate in early screenings for mental health-related concerns, of which 3911 students did. Those screenings were either from the CSUHN website, YOU@CSU or sent out via email invitation using the Interactive Screening Program, Patrias said. 

Students can choose to take those screenings after which they receive comprehensive feedback and material to improve.

“It’s good to be able to check-in with yourself and do some of that self-assessment,” Patrias said.

As for support training, over the course of six months, 334 residence life and apartment life staff received more than 43 hours of group training on mental health related topics, according to the University. Greenhalgh said it was important for faculty to be educated in the wide range of services available to them and students.

Two training programs, At Risk or Notice and Respond, trained 1,187 students, staff and faculty last semester.

At Risk is an online program for staff and faculty to learn how to recognize students in distress in their classrooms and how to engage with those individuals.

Notice and Respond is a similar training program only issued in-person through the Health Network and is also open to students.

Neither are required. Staff can take At Risk anytime or request a training.

Active Minds

Mental health awareness is promoted by more than the hired professionals; the CSU chapter of Active Minds is a student organization dedicated to mental health advocacy, suicide prevention and destigmatizing mental struggles for the campus community.

The group also serves as a student community with shared goal and interests. They build community among their own members through social events and storytime, where members share their backgrounds with mental illness.

“Mental health is something that where no matter what you look like, where you come from, what you believe, we all have mental health,” said Active Minds president Ellie Ewer. “So, my goal with Active Minds is to create that bridge and show everyone we can unite over something that we all have.”

Ram Recovery

Having just received a grant from Transforming Youth Recovery , Ram Recovery continues to build themselves as resource for students in recovery, be it from substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, behavioral addictions, or co-occurring mental health disorders.

Through weekly meetings and events like group dinners, the student-led support group promotes a substance-free lifestyle supported by a peer community, Cofounder Ashley Wheeler said.

“We let students know they do have a chance after hitting their own bottom with drug or alcohol-use or the addiction they struggle with that they will have the support to be able to finish their education or pursue a graduate degree,” Wheeler said.

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.