CSUF makes access to mental health resources easy, convenient – OCRegister

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By Nicole Gregory, contributing writer
At Cal State Fullerton, students are provided a variety of ways to support their mental health through a robust program of counseling and psychological services, or CAPS — and in September this will include a Wellness Room.
Students will be able to sit in massage chairs or napping pods, practice mindfulness techniques while exploring the art area, attend a yoga session, and connect with peers on their mental health wellness journey in the lounge relaxation space, said Jacquelyn Gerali, prevention education coordinator and faculty counselor for student wellness, counseling and psychological services.
“The CAPS Wellness Room was inspired by students’ voices propelled by alumni Asha Bhattacharya and is a means to provide students with a space to support their mental wellness,” she said. “Through this CAPS Wellness Room, we can provide students with a holistic approach to managing mental health in supporting their physical, biological, and emotional needs.”
Mental health support is critical for college students. Not only do they cope with academic stress and often juggle school work with a job and family responsibilities, but the pandemic has also taken a major toll on college students’ sense of well-being.
According to a report from the American College Health Association, “Financial stress, a known predictor of student mental health, has been significantly affected by the pandemic: Two-thirds of students report their financial situation has become more stressful.”
The report stated that “Roughly one-third of students report that their living situation changed as a result of the pandemic.” Fear of getting COVID or a family member getting the virus also contributed to students’ stress.
To make help easy to access, Cal State Fullerton created You.Fullerton.Edu, an online wellness platform where students can learn about different kinds of help. They can also go to drop-in counseling groups, connect with peer education and receive helpful messaging through social media such as Instagram @csufcaps and @you.at.fullerton.
Wellness workshops, initial consultation appointments, short-term counseling, crisis services, therapy groups, wellness coaching, case management, and psychiatry services are all accessible for students, Gerali said.
Emotional problems don’t just start in college. One in three high schoolers experiences sadness or hopelessness, according to a 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and female students were more vulnerable to these despairing emotions, with many reporting they had considered suicide.
The antidote is feeling connected to family and school, the CDC study stated. Building strong bonds and relationships with adults and friends at school, at home and in the community provides youth with a sense of connectedness, it stated.
This means that as they start college, students and their parents would do well to locate where and how students can get support, in case they need it.
“First-year students often face challenges with the transitional process between high school and college and, as a result, may greatly struggle with managing their mental health needs,” Gerali said.
Licensed clinical counselors are trained to help undergraduate and graduate students, and they do their work with multicultural, multidisciplinary and multitheoretical approaches, which enable students to find a counselor they can identify with and trust. All the counselors have profiles on the “Meet the Staff” section of the Cal State University/CAPS website for students to peruse.
Types of drop-in workshops offered include “Mood Wellness and Sleep Wellness,” and therapy groups with themes such as “Rise & Thrive: From Trauma to Resilience,” “Your Best Self: Building Self Esteem & Confidence,” and “Healing Through the Written Word” are typically available.
The needs of students of specific cultural groups have been addressed with support groups such as “Coping with CAPS” for Latinx-identified students and “Soulful Wellness Wednesdays,” which take place in the African American Resource Center.
“Cal State Fullerton and our CAPS department are incredibly passionate about helping students and are excited to explore innovative methods to support the mental wellness needs of students,” Gerali said.
Recently, the CAPS Prevention Education Program was launched featuring two prevention education coordinators/faculty counselors and six mental wellness peer educators who will help spread awareness about preventative mental health strategies.
Peer educators are critical to help break the stigma of mental health, Gerali said. It’s just one of the innovative approaches that CAPS uses to reach students so they understand the value of taking care of themselves. Creating this awareness will help students learn to support their own mental health.
“The CAPS Prevention Education Program aims to provide students with proactive preventative mental health support, strategies, and resources,” she said.
CSUF will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Wellness Room on Monday, Sept. 26.
“We hope that students utilize the CAPS Wellness Room to maximize their mental health needs and experience the feeling of tranquility, peace, and calmness on campus,” Gerali said.
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