COVID-19 continues to affect the way students seek mental health help
In the first six weeks of the fall semester, nearly 1,000 students sought help through Ohio University’s Psychology and Counseling Services, or CPS.
The number of students seeing CPA counselors has grown from 705 students last fall to 973 students this fall. The increase can be attributed to the number of students returning to campus this semester, said Paul Castelino, director of CPS.
Students are still developing mentally, which makes them more vulnerable to stressors from COVID-19, said Timothy Anderson, professor of psychology at OU.
“Part of the developmental task in college is to develop through relationships and support from other students to discover their identities through these interactions with other students,” Anderson said. “The last year and a half that we’ve been in COVID, there have been some serious roadblocks on this, really, very important time of life. “
The need for social interaction and mental health support from peers is a critical part of the OU’s Active Minds Club. The club strives to provide a safe place for students to discuss their mental health and end the stigma surrounding mental health through meetings and sponsored events.
Active Minds is advised by David Lairmore, psychologist and outreach coordinator for CPS. However, the group is mainly led by the students involved in the organization. Weekly events and activities focus on what students feel they need at the time.
“Something that I noticed a lot and talked about in meetings is face-to-face classes again,” said Makenna Burton, President of Active Minds at OU and sophomore graphic design and design student. art in the studio. “I feel like we’ve all gotten so used to being online that now that we have to get to classes in person on time, having to jump quickly from class to class, it’s honestly very. stressful.”
COVID-19 has not only affected the source of stress for students, but also the format by which students seek help for this stress. Most meetings scheduled with CPS are done through Zoom for Healthcare. There may be exceptions to the telehealth communication system if students are concerned about their privacy or their mental health needs require an in-person session, Castelino said.
The CPS has set up 18 to 20 hours a day during which the students can contact them. For immediate help, students can use the walk-in services or speak to a counselor by phone after hours. In-person, walk-in meetings are available for students Sunday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Living Learning Center. For students looking for one-off appointments, there are six to eight one-hour appointments to choose from throughout the week.
The CPS currently has 16 providers on staff, including psychologists and counselors, a care manager and a psychiatrist. CPS recognizes that this may appear to be a small number of vendors relative to the size of the OU campus.
“We will continue to monitor our availability, resources and usage so that we can meet demands and needs as the semester unfolds,” said Rebecca Conrad Davenport, Associate Director and Clinical Director of CPS, in a statement. -mail. “Our staff constantly strive to listen to students and keep abreast of the standards of care in our respective areas of mental health.”
Burton said she understands why students may be reluctant to attend counseling, but said CPS understands if this isn’t the right option for some students.
“I know a lot of people think that the stigma behind (seeing) a therapist… will make you look weak but, in my opinion, it makes you a lot stronger,” Burton said. “I would definitely recommend it (CPS) to anyone who feels the need.”
While the choice of students to seek help from CPS may vary, Anderson said if a student thinks about it, they should go.
“Anytime a student feels like he or she needs help … If a student is feeling stressed out and they’re like, ‘Hey, maybe I should talk to a therapist,’ now is a good time. to talk to a therapist, ”he said.