Tens of millions of people in the United States suffer from some sort of mental disorder, according to the National Institute on Mental Health. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you know someone who has a mental health issue.
What I want to tell you is that there’s a way to get help. The place is CAPS.
CAPS stands for “Counseling and Psychological Services.” It can help you with just about anything — from break-ups to stress, from coping with a death in the family to anxiety. It even has group sessions so you can talk with other students going through similar problems.
These services are available to everyone and it’s completely normal to take advantage of them.
For some reason, CAPS is still not something that’s usually talked about openly, but I can’t imagine why. I had been so worried that people would find out that it literally kept me up at night. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going once a week, every week during the fall semester of my senior year. I would just say, “Oh, going to UHS because I’m sick,” or “I have a meeting with my professor.” What I was afraid of, I don’t know. Would people think I was crazy? Would my friends start to worry about me?
Whatever the reason, it took me a while to let people know the real story: I was going each week to talk to a professional about a friend of mine who needed help and to talk about my own problems with anxiety.
Turns out, there was no reason for CAPS to be “hush hush.” My parents and close friends were actually glad and, ultimately, relieved to find out that I was going. No one thought I was crazy. No one was worried. CAPS was a very positive experience for me and I encourage people to take advantage of it.
I cannot explain in words how thankful I am for the staff at CAPS. Before I went, I had no idea what to do. My friend was in dire need of help and I didn’t know how to react. Not only did they lead me in the right direction, but I found out some things about myself that I never would’ve realized. For instance, I have an obsession with helping others. It used to be a joke since I was involved in so many clubs. But since I talked about it with a professional, I realize that I need to give myself some thought every once in a while, too. I can tell you that I never would’ve done that without CAPS.
Here’s what happens when you go: The wonderful receptionist will ask you your name. You tell them you’d like to speak to someone and she asks you no further questions. Then you fill out a survey on a private computer, just so they have a basic idea of what’s going on. Next, you wait a few minutes and someone is there to listen to you as well as give helpful advice in return.
From there, you can make a decision whether or not to visit every week. If your problem is short-term, you can go for up to nine weeks. If the issue ends up being long-term, they can hook you up with a local therapist that can see you on a weekly basis for however long you need it.
I wanted to write about the availability of CAPS during this Mental Health Awareness week because it is so important. The services it provides can save you from so much stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness, and a multitude of other problems. It did just that for me, and I hope, if necessary, they can do the same for you.
To make an appointment, or learn more about CAPS, you can visit their site here.