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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Get your mental wellness checkup

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Mental health is a key part of your overall health and well-being. You can use a brief online screening to check in on your mental wellness and see if you should connect with a mental health professional.

Get an online mental wellness checkup today!

It’s free and completely confidential. Immediately following the brief questionnaire, you will see your results, recommendations, and information on university and community support resources.

Need help right now? Counseling and Psychological Services is available 24/7 at 509-335-4511.

Stressed? We can help!

Stressed? We can help!

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want tips for managing your stress? We can help!

Join our text messaging program and we will:

  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress
  • Check in to see how you’re doing
  • Share information about resources around campus

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 30644. You can join at any point in the semester!

Online mental health screening coming soon

Coming soon, Health & Wellness Services will have an online mental health screening available to WSU students.

Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you should connect with a mental health professional – it’s like a checkup from the neck up.

Mental health concerns are common. For example, a 2016 survey of WSU students found that within the past 12 months, 56.1 percent of Cougs reported feeling overwhelming anxiety at some point and 34.8 percent of Cougs felt so depressed that it was difficult to function (ACHA-NCHA, 2016).

While many students experience a mental health concern, they may be unsure if they need help or where to go for support. By making the mental health screening available, we hope to encourage Cougs to get help if they need it.

The program is free of charge, accessible online, and completely anonymous. At the end of the screening, students will get their results, recommendations, and information on local support resources.

By offering the screening, we’ll make progress towards fulfilling our SAMSHA Grant and JED Foundation goals of informing Cougs about mental health support services and decreasing stigma around mental health.

To promote the program, we collaborated with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication. We’ll be using their research and suggestions as we implement this screening.

We purchased our screening program from Screening for Mental Health, Inc. If you would like to learn more about the mental health screening and stay up to date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

9 ways you can promote mental health

9 ways you can promote mental health

According to our National College Health Assessment for 2016, Cougs report that stress, sleep difficulties and anxiety are the top three health factors affecting their academic performance within the last 12 months.

By encouraging Cougs’ mental and emotional well-being, faculty and staff can support their academic success. To get started, check out this list of ideas and resources you can use in the year ahead.

  1. Be familiar with campus resources. Learn more about mental health resources and include a list in your syllabus or student employee training materials.
  2. Get connected. Subscribe to receive email updates about mental health promotion and suicide prevention efforts at WSU.
  3. Take a training. Attend Campus Connect suicide prevention training or schedule a training for your department.
  4. Encourage stress management. Let students know about our stress management text messaging service. Add a Power Point slide to a presentation or advertise on your office’s digital reader board.
  5. Talk about it! Integrate a mental health topic into a classroom discussion or project.
  6. Support students in distress. Know how to use the AWARE Network to share your concerns about a student’s well-being, behavior, or academic performance. This system will connect the student with University staff that can help.
  7. Get your staff involved. Add a mental health component to a staff training or brainstorm ways your department can promote mental health.
  8. Advertise mental health resources. Print suicide prevention resources fliers or request brochures to display in your office.
  9. Join the Campus Mental Health Collaborative. This group works together to implement a comprehensive public health framework to promote mental health and prevent suicide of WSU students. Email programs@wsu.edu to get involved.

Is there another way you’re promoting mental health at WSU? Let us know by sending an email to hws.programs@wsu.edu

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Student Affairs is currently developing a toolkit that faculty and staff can use to help students who are in distress. The goal of the toolkit is to ensure students have a successful academic career by getting them connected to campus resources that will support their specific needs.

Faculty and staff play a key role in the lives of students. They work closely with them and are often able to notice when a student is having a hard time.

With the help of the toolkit, faculty and staff will be able to recognize potential signs of distress, respond in the moment, and connect the student to appropriate campus resources.

The guide will cover a wide range of concerns. For example, if a student experiences the loss of a family member, financial issues, violence, or a mental health concern, the guide will offer steps for helping the student and connecting them to specific campus resources.

To develop this guide, we reviewed similar toolkits from other universities and sought feedback from WSU faculty, advisors, deans, administrators, and staff. Our team decided to adapt a guide created by UMatter at UMass and tailor it to the specific needs of our community.

The toolkit will be available this fall in an online format. If you want to know when it’s live, you can subscribe to receive email updates about suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

We recently met with members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

During our meeting, we talked about goals for the SAMSHA Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant and what we’ve done so far.

SAMSHA grant goals

Promote mental health through campus-wide partnerships. Together, collaborative members are actively looking for ways to support each other’s mental health promotion efforts. For example, during our meeting, departments brainstormed the idea of adding a mental health component to their staff and student trainings.

Offer suicide prevention training. Last year we began offering suicide prevention training, Campus Connect. Over 430 Cougs have taken this training and we expanded it to an online format.

In addition to education on best practices for responding to someone in crisis, Campus Connect teaches essential communication and relationship building skills. Departments like Athletics and Residence Life find this training so valuable, they require their employees to take it.

Collect and evaluate data to refine our mental health promotion activities. We want all Cougs to get more information about suicide prevention and to get help if they experience a mental health concern. To measure our progress towards these goals, we use data from the National College Health Assessment and quarterly grant reports. This data will also help us understand how we can support students’ changing mental health needs.

Expand and improve programs for students. This past spring, we launched a stress management texting program which sends students tips for managing their stress – over 680 Cougs have signed up! Currently, we’re expanding this program for student-athletes, and we hope to offer it to more groups on campus.

Moving forward, we plan to adapt content from a research-based stress management workshop. We also are looking for faculty collaborators to evaluate the texting program.

Inform Cougs about support services and decrease stigma around mental health. We’re working with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication on a campaign to promote a mental health screening tool and educate students about resources and suicide risk factors.

For the remainder of our meeting, collaborative members gave updates on their current mental health promotion activities and we brainstormed ways to use existing resources to expand our efforts. The meeting concluded with feedback on a guide for responding to students in crisis, which is currently in development.

We look forward to building relationships with collaborative members and supporting each other’s work. If you would like to learn more about the collaborative and stay up-to-date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

When the fall and winter months roll around and there’s less sunlight, some people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that occurs during a specific season, and subsides for the rest of the year. Symptoms of SAD are different for everyone, but they can include low energy, poor mood, fatigue, and similar symptoms.

How light therapy can help

If you’re experiencing SAD or other types of depression, consider trying light therapy. Light therapy involves using a specialized lamp that mimics real sunshine and produces similar benefits. It can help improve mood, regulate sleep hormones, increase levels of vitamin D, and relieve other symptoms of SAD.

For best results, our healthcare providers recommend using light therapy for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. You’ll want to sit 16 inches to two feet away from the light, without looking directly into it.

Before you try light therapy, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about risks, benefits, and other special considerations.

What to look for when buying a light therapy lamp

Want to buy your own light therapy unit? Try to get one with at least 10,000 lux. This level of light is optimal for reducing symptoms of SAD.

If you’re a client with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you can use the light therapy lamp in their relaxation room (Washington Building room 302A). To access this lamp, all you need to do is talk with a CAPS staff member at the front desk during regular business hours.

Light therapy is just one treatment option for SAD and other types of depression. There are many other options you can try! If you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to drop in during Counseling and Psychological Services’ walk-in hours, or make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Overcome the stress of perfection

Overcome the stress of perfection

Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing. It can help you excel at your job and in class. But having standards that are too high can lead to stress and feelings of frustration when they’re not met.

Perfectionism is the tendency to set standards so high, they’re unattainable or only met with great difficulty. Someone who has perfectionist tendencies believes that anything short of perfect is a problem and fears making mistakes.

The effects of perfectionism

Feelings. Perfectionism can cause you to feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. If you tend to criticize yourself for not doing what you think is a good job, these feelings can be more intense.

Thinking. You might think anything less than perfect is a failure. You may believe your self-worth depends on your achievements and that others judge you based on your accomplishments.

Behaviors. Perfectionism can cause you to chronically procrastinate, have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily on something because you don’t feel it’s perfect. Perfectionism can also keep you from being creative and innovative.

Mental health. Perfectionism is related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress.

So how can you tell if perfectionism has gotten out of hand? Ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult for me to meet my own expectations?
  • Do I feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry when I try to meet my standards?
  • Do my standards get in the way of doing what I want or need to do?
  • Do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or be spontaneous?

Tips for overcoming perfectionism

Think realistically. Challenge negative self-talk with realistic statements and self-compassion. For example, when you start to be overly critical of yourself, try to be kind and remind yourself nobody is perfect.

Try a new perspective. When you don’t meet your own expectations, try and view yourself as a friend would. They’d probably highlight positive things. Sure, you didn’t work out five days last week, but you made it to the gym three times and that’s a perfectly reasonable amount.

Conquer procrastination. Perfectionists tend to put off to dos because they may be unsure how to do something perfectly. Try practicing self-compassion for overcoming procrastination.

Create realistic expectations. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Try to spend these resources on projects, assignments, and other things that are most important. Prioritizing your to do list and setting SMART goals can help you set realistic expectations.

Allow yourself to make mistakes. You might fear making mistakes, but making them is a completely natural and expected part of human existence. After you make a few mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not the worst that can happen.

The content in this post is adapted from Anxiety BC®’s guide on “How to overcome perfectionism.”

Campus-wide support for mental health

Campus-wide support for mental health

This week, the Campus Mental Health Collaborative will meet to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

The collaborative launched last fall as part of Health & Wellness Services’ involvement in the SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant and the JED Foundation campus program.

Currently, we’re streamlining campus crisis protocols to ensure students in distress get the support they need. Members are also in the process of implementing suggestions from the JED Foundation. For example, Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services are working to better integrate medical systems and expand the number of suicide prevention and mental health training opportunities.

At the upcoming meeting, we plan to review a guide for helping faculty and staff respond to a student in distress. Members will also give updates on their priority projects for mental health and discuss options for expanding access to trainings on other WSU campuses. We’ll continue to look for ways we can support each other’s efforts.

The meeting will take place on October 5, 2017 at 10:00 am in Lighty 405. All are welcome to attend.

To stay updated with mental health promotion and news about the collaborative efforts, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list.