College can be a challenging, stressful experience. Here's a look at resources for UNC students to help them prioritize their mental health and well-being while at the University.
Counseling and Psychological Services
UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, offers free mental health resources for students.
Avery Cook, the interim director of CAPS, said they want students to know how accessible mental health resources are for students at any time.
“We have CAPS availability 24/7, which means if a student calls CAPS at any time — day, night, weekend, holidays, whatever — they can talk to a therapist right then,” Cook said. “So, at three in the morning on a Tuesday, if someone is feeling anxious or feeling homesick or worried about adjusting, they can call our number and get one right then.”
CAPS is available by phone 24/7 at (919) 966-3658. Cook added that CAPS has walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with no cut-off time — as long as you get in line before 4 p.m., you will be seen that day.
“We always want students to know that they always have access to support and whatever it is that they may be dealing with,” Cook said. “We'll help them get connected with whatever would be helpful and getting them sort of back on track.”
Elizabeth Christensen is a psychologist at CAPS that specializes in individual and group therapy and is the co-coordinator of CAPS’ group therapy program.
She said they usually run around 20 to 25 different groups per semester, ranging from support groups, grief groups, and more.
“A lot of freshmen come to campus and they look around and they say ‘Oh my gosh, all these high achievers, they've got it together, they know what they're doing,’" she said. "When, in reality, they might be struggling underneath.”
If CAPS counselors feel as though a student would benefit from more regular, long-term treatment, there are in-house referral coordinators that will give students the names of mental health providers in the community and assist with insurance and transportation issues.
CAPS' services also include a Multicultural Health Program, academic interventions and medication management.
More information about CAPS can be found on its website.
Heels Care Network
In February, UNC launched the Heels Care Network, which includes a variety of mental health and support resources for students and the community.
The initiative was a product of feedback from a Mental Health Summit the University held in November.
One of the Heels Care Network's features is a 24/7 live chatroom, "Listen, Support, Navigate," where students can chat anonymously with a fellow student about something that’s bothering them or that they might need advice on.
Gabriella Montes, a rising sophomore at UNC, had a few words of advice for incoming first-years.
“I think the best thing is when incoming freshmen first come on to campus, they should really like try to get out of their comfort zone because coming into college at your first year can feel kind of lonely and isolating, and also overwhelming, because there are so many people,” Montes said.
Montes also said that keeping in touch with old friends and family is helpful to not becoming isolated, but to remember to not hold yourself back when meeting new people.
"Surround yourself with people who make you feel like you're 100 percent you and people who feel like a home away from home," Montes said.
Additional resources and initiatives
In recent semesters, the University has implemented wellness days into the academic calendar to give students additional breaks to rest and recharge.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told The Daily Tar Heel that future academic calendars may keep some wellness days.
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