University Park, Pennsylvania — As the semester begins, Pennsylvania State University is reminding students of the resources available to support mental health.

Natalie Hernandez DePalma, senior director of Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Brett Scofield, associate director of CAPS, say the number of college students seeking counseling services has increased nationally over the past decade. increase. Additionally, the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt nationwide, with a student reporting the impact of her COVID on her health and mental health.

“What the data shows is that certain areas such as anxiety are on the rise,” De Palma said. , mental health awareness has become a big part of the cultural conversation.”

Scofield, who is also executive director of the University Mental Health Center, said: positive trend. ” Initiatives like Red Folder have been well received and are incorporated into training and orientation for new and current staff. This helps those who interact with students learn how to “recognize, respond, and introduce” students.

The initial Red Folder initiative was made possible by a significant increase in CAPS funding from President Eric Barron in 2017 and major support from Senior Class donations in 2020 and 2016. The University Park Faculties Association aims to educate all campus faculty and staff on how to identify signs that students may be struggling with mental health and wellness and the resources they can utilize to benefit. I have also helped create and lead initiatives that they. A recent expansion of Red Folder provides additional guidance and resources for mild and moderate distress in addition to high distress options, and new print folders will be distributed at University Park and Commonwealth Campus this semester. increase.

A key component of the Red Folder, creating a community of care, is the “no wrong door” concept practiced throughout Penn State University, de Palma and Schofield say. This allows students to get information, support and direction from anyone they approach. While each office cannot meet all needs, staff expect and appreciate the opportunity to help students find their next steps and resources as students.

“The important thing to know is that Penn State cares and we are here for you, ready to support and empower you. It shows strength and is a sign of self-compassion and compassion,” Scofield said.

An important part of being part of the Penn State community is caring for other Penn State citizens, including friends, colleagues, and colleagues.

“If you feel something isn’t right, say something,” De Palma said. “If you think someone is having a hard time, please check in with them and ask how they are doing, or contact a trusted source such as CAPS or the Penn State Crisis Line for guidance. ”

Mental health and wellness resources

Maintained by the Pennsylvania State Department of Student Affairs, this health and wellness webpage details the many wellness and mental health resources available to support and empower Penn State students.

  • Counseling and mental health services available through CAPS are available to University Park students at 814-863-0395 or at any Commonwealth campus location.

  • WellTrack is a free app that provides interactive tools for building resilience and managing stress, depression and anxiety with self-help videos. Guidance in deciding next steps.

  • Life Hacks is a step-by-step wellness kit designed to help you navigate and demystify some of the more complex parts of being human. These are available to instructors as a pre-packaged extra credit option for students.

  • Drop-in groups focus on peer support and discussion. Please stop by during group time. These are not treatment groups and do not require reservations. Topics include health, sexual and gender diversity, empowerment of women of color, empowerment of black and Latino men, interfaith dialogue, and addiction recovery.

  • Health Promotion and Wellness at University Park offers wellness and stress management programs.

  • Free wellness sessions on topics like stress, sleep, nutrition, physical activity, healthy relationships, sexual health and more.

  • A campus recreation program that includes individual and group fitness classes, outdoor recreation, intramural sports, and other offerings.

  • A full range of medical services, physiotherapy, preventive care and immunization services available through the University Health Service.

  • The Collegiate Recovery Community supports students in their recovery from alcohol and other substance use disorders.

  • Students experiencing food or housing insecurity, or assistance with food and meals, toiletries and household items, housing, rent and utilities, medical and health insurance, textbooks, child care, financial emergencies, etc. , assistance to students struggling with other essential needs.

  • The Red Folder Initiative provides guidance to faculty and staff on how to identify students who may be struggling with mental health and what resources are available to support them.

  • The Penn State Crisis Line (877-229-6400) and Crisis Text Line (741741 from the text “LIONS”) are available 24/7 to help Penn State students deal with both crisis and non-crisis situations. Available in Students on all campuses who have questions about others. Penn State Crisis Line licensed professionals can help assess individual situations, provide guidance, and connect callers to further resources when needed.

  • The Pennsylvania State University Libraries have a library guide on personal health and mental wellness that includes a variety of health-related resources.

Other crisis resources

For those in imminent danger, CAPS services are available without waiting. DePalma and Scofield argue that a “crisis” includes thoughts of harming oneself or others, loss of housing, recent death of a family member, or other traumatic event that severely and adversely affects daily life and ability to function. I said it might be included.

If you would like to connect with a mental health professional in a crisis:

  • For immediate or life-threatening emergencies, call 911.

  • Call CAPS at 814-863-0395 during normal business hours or contact the counseling office located on each Commonwealth campus of Pennsylvania State University.

  • Penn State Crisis Line — 24/7 toll-free service served by all Penn State University students and licensed professionals available at University Park and Commonwealth campuses — 877-229-6400 .

  • Text “LIONS” to 741741 to text the 24/7 crisis text line, another 24/7 resource available to all community members.

Students facing unforeseen challenges can also connect to the Office of Student Care and Advocacy, which works with students struggling with everything from medical emergencies and hospitalizations to food and housing insecurity. I can do it. Student Care and Advocacy works with partners across the university to empower students affected by medical issues, mental health crises, food and housing insecurity, and more. Commonwealth Campuses students also have access to services provided by her Student Affairs office on each individual campus.

Mental Health and Wellness Tips and Strategies

DePalma and Scofield acknowledged that college is a uniquely stressful time for many students, and that the events of the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to affect students in many ways. But what’s important to understand is that feeling stressed during times of stress and feeling anxious during times of uncertainty is a normal, healthy human response to life, especially life’s transitions. is to be

“Anxiety is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong that wants your attention,” Scofield said. Be patient as you adjust When your anxiety goes beyond normal levels — If you feel tense or agitated on a regular basis, or if your anxiety is interfering with your ability to live life effectively. If there is — you should ask for help.”

James Dillard, Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, who studies how people experience and cope with the fear of infectious diseases, said: your emotions. ”

Dillard says taking a break from the news and social media can help manage stress and improve personal well-being. He said individuals should assess the impact of pandemic-related news on them while paying attention to their mental and emotional state, and adjust their media intake and interpersonal communication accordingly. rice field.

Dillard, DePalma, and Scofield also shared how proper care of your body and overall health can contribute to positive mental health. He advises students to eat well-balanced, healthy meals on a regular basis and avoid alcohol and drugs.

“Whatever you’re going through or feeling, practice feeling it and accepting yourself with compassion,” De Palma said. It’s important to be honest with yourself and the people around you, especially if you need support, instead of just trying to be true to yourself, the people who matter to you, the hobbies and passions that are important to you, And it’s equally important to stay connected to your own sense of purpose in the world.”

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