Support for seeking support: a guide to mental health resources
Mental health problems might be scary for many students, and the default might be to hide the realities, but this will only exacerbate the problems.
With the start of a new semester comes the inevitable stresses of college: roommate problems, scheduling conflicts, trying out new clubs and being away from home for the first time, to name a few. Students are adjusting — or readjusting — to campus life, and the pressures — both social and academic — start early.
When all of these anxieties begin to pile up, students may need to reach out to on-campus resources.
The university offers many different opportunities for support. But for students who may have never seen a professional before, or might not even know they have a mental health condition, these resources can be intimidating and confusing.
“College is really hard, and it’s not just the schoolwork,” Tim Fowles, the director of the Psychological Services Training Center (PSTC), says. “Being uprooted and living away from home, having to manage not only your schoolwork, but also your living situation, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, breakups — that’s enormous stress. And if it’s not handled properly, it can spiral out of control.”
The PSTC is not always free, but has low costs to start with, and utilizes a sliding fee scale for students who often have low to no income. Fowles notes that it’s important for students to pay attention to their friends, because many people have trouble seeking out mental health counseling, and might need a push in the right direction.
“Mental health is the proper functioning of the brain and your psychological systems,” Fowles says. “It’s just like any other physical problem, and you’d want to get that checked out if something wasn’t right.”
Fowles stressed that students may be discovering mental health problems for the first time in college. These issues can range from anxiety, to depression, to more rare concerns such as psychosis. He explains that this might be scary for many students, and the default might be to hide the realities of these problems, but he warns that this will only exacerbate the problem, and encourages students to seek support.
Brad Wolgast is both a psychologist and the director of the Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) at the university. He explained that the CCSD is free to any university student.
If a student called today, a few days later they could go to the CCSD and meet with someone for a half-hour appointment. After that, the CCSD helps to place students where they fit best, whether that be group counseling, a counselor or an outside referral. Students paired with a psychologist will typically meet with their counselor weekly for 45-50 minutes.
“Our resources are different and can provide people other opportunities that you can’t get from a friend or a mom or dad,” Wolgast says. “We don’t know you, and we’re professionals at listening to you, and hearing what’s going on. We’re also professionals at college students.”
Having that impartial, unbiased ear can be very helpful to students, and can be new to many. But often, as both Fowles and Wolgast point out, there is a stigma surrounding mental health issues that can cause students to be ambivalent when it comes to seeking help.
“There’s no stigma associated with broken legs, and the same ought to be true for mental health,” Fowles explains. “If you’re struggling to get up in the morning and get to class, that could just be that your time schedule is off, or it could be depression. But it doesn’t hurt to stop in and get it checked out by a professional.”
The university offers many resources for students who might be struggling. There’s student-run groups, like Active Minds, Friends for Friends and Promoters of Wellness, as well as university-run organizations, like Student Wellness and Health Promotion, Healthy Hens and Student Health Services.
The university-run services are confidential. Many students worry about their parents or loved ones finding out, but both PSTC and CCSD are bound to confidentiality unless a student gives their consent for information to be passed along.
“There’s a lot of places and a lot of people who care,” Wolgast says. “Students who are suffering or worried or upset should know that we’re here to help. It’s confidential and there are no fees associated with anything we do. So we made a pretty low bar for people to get in. If you’re a UD student, we’ll see you, and we’ll figure out what to do next.”
The Psychological Services Training Center is located in Belmont House at 203 West Main St. One can contact the Psychological Services Training Center by phone at (302) 831-2717 or by visiting its website at https://www.psych.udel.edu/clinic/about-the-clinic. The Center for Counseling and Development is located in 261 Perkins Student Center on the second floor. However, if one prefers, they can also refer to the UD Helpline, a 24/7/365 hotline at (302) 831-1001. To find out about meditation apps, other online resources and other on campus locations for help, visit https://sites.udel.edu/counseling/.