An anonymous person once said, “From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.” 2020 has been a year full of stressful events that have caused a spike in mental health challenges. The impact of COVID-19, in particular, has been one of the central stressors for people all over the world. Fortunately for UNC Charlotte students, there are several accessible resources for students available.
The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is an on-campus resource for students that is dedicated to creating a “healthy and inclusive campus climate” at UNC Charlotte. CAPS offers free counseling sessions, coordination with off-campus providers, and outreach services. All of CAPS services are free of charge and currently virtual. The clinical director at CAPS, Aaron Brink, expressed how essential CAPS is during this difficult time. CAPS is a front-lining resource that aims to make its services as easily accessible for students as possible, whether it is a crisis or not. CAPS not only strives to help students with their mental health but their overall holistic health as well. The service regularly works alongside the Student Health Center, the Center for Wellness Promotion, and the Student REC Center at UNCC to promote the importance of emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Due to COVID-19, CAPS has created online workshops to help students cope with anxiety and living mindfully. To access the workshops and more resources pertaining to COVID-19, visit caps.uncc.edu/coronavirus-resources. To schedule an appointment or get in contact with CAPS, go to caps.uncc.edu.
Within CAPS, there are several specialized groups of resources called outreach programs. These programs encourage students to seek out a community that represents who they are while also working to increase their holistic well-being. Leigh Norwood from the Counseling Center discussed how important the Black mental health groups within CAPS are. As Norwood expressed, UNCC is a predominantly white institution, which amplifies the importance and value of identity. Being able to have groups such as the Empowered Black Woman Group and the Empowered Black Man Group gives students the opportunity to find a supportive community within their school. These groups are needed and will continue to provide a community for our Black students, who may be experiencing race-based trauma from the injustice that continues to go on in the world today, which is amplified by COVID-19 and all its consequences. There are also specialized organizations and groups that help students in the LGBTQ+ community, international students, military-affiliated students, students with disabilities, and many more. To look into CAPS’ outreach programs, go to caps.uncc.edu/outreach-and-educational-programs.
The Active Minds organization is another on-campus resource that works to increase mental health awareness. The organization works to educate students about signs and symptoms of mental health disorders so students can either seek help for themselves or their peers. Active Minds brings students together to connect and discuss the many aspects of mental health. Although there are no trained professionals involved, the organization proves that connecting with your peers is an essential aspect of mental health. While the organization is virtual, there are many opportunities for engagement and conversations through Zoom meetings. You can join the Active Minds organization through Niner Engage or follow them on Instagram @activemindsuncc!
We all cope with stress and challenges differently. The trick is to find your own comfort zone and/or activity that is beneficial to you. It could be anything from exercising or starting a journal to listening to your favorite songs or hanging out with your friends. It is also important to connect with people, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Leigh Norwood described the importance of connecting with others, noting that, “It is true that people need people.” Lisa Olivera, a therapist and writer, perfectly describes this notion: “Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you, doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.” There is an abundance of resources right before us as students, and it would be an incredible waste to not utilize them.
Never be afraid to ask for help. Again, here are the resources that are accessible to you, as a UNCC student:
CALM Workshop & Other COVID-19 Resources: caps.uncc.edu/coronavirus-resources.
CAPS Outreach Programs: caps.uncc.edu/outreach-and-educational-programs.