Don't let the stress of the semester creep up on you this semester, CAPS is there to help

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Darien Bakas / The Daily Wildcat | The Daily Wildcat

The UA Campus Health Center is on Sixth Street and is available to any student or staff that needs healthcare. Students are encouraged to drop by and make an appointment if they feel their stress is getting out of control.

A survey of 19,861 college students by the American College Health Association in the fall of 2015 found that 18 percent of students had experienced overwhelming anxiety within the past 2 weeks, while 20 percent had been diagnosed with depression.

While it’s true that college might not exactly be a mental vacation, it shouldn’t be a psychological minefield.

"Entering freshmen these days carry more problems with them than entering freshman five years ago," said Philip Gibeau Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who has worked at Campus Counseling and Psych Services for nine years. "There’s much more stress in the world and our students are showing it as they come in for their freshman year in the first semester.”

RELATED: A beginner's guide to navigating CAPS (and other Campus Health services)

Stressors include completing coursework, being away from home, earning enough money to pay rent and trying to fit in. Many freshmen are thrown into a variety of social situations and academic settings unlike anything they’ve experienced before. This stress, coupled with anxiety and loneliness, can lead to an emotional build-up and eventually a breakdown.

How do you know if what you’re feeling is more than what the average student goes through? If you’re falling behind in classes or unable to cope with your stress load, then it may be a good idea to get yourself checked out at CAPS.

“One of the nice things about CAPS is that we provide that checking," Gibeau said. "We can let people know if what they’re going through is pretty routine and we can offer some suggestions for how to make it better. The earlier they come in, the more likely it is that the problems they carry are going to be solvable.”

Gibeau also said that the number one cause of suicidal thoughts is the inability to cope with the challenges you are facing. This belief, coupled with hopelessness about the future, can lead to suicidal idealization or worse.

There are a large number of resources available to students struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

"If they live on campus and feel like they need intervention, then they should talk to their RAs about how they’re feeling," said Rosanna Curti, a member of the assistant dean of students overseeing student assistance and accountability. "The RAs are trained to notify the police and then the police can do a safety assessment and help them determine if they need to bring in a group from the campus community or go to the hospital.”

RELATED: Tucson community shines a light on mental illness

For students living off campus, CAPS offers a non-judgmental place for students to get professional counseling assistance. The dean’s office is another valuable resource in providing aid to students, offering a “Dog Days with the Dean” dog therapy session every other Wednesday at 11 a.m. in room 100 of the Nugent building.

Mental illness is just like any other illness; if addressed in time, it can be treated successfully. Start by asking yourself questions like, ‘What do I need to do to prepare myself for this,' and 'Where are these feelings coming from,’ and ‘What will be the best way to combat this?’

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you steer clear of the ‘mental flu’ this semester.

  1. Develop good time management skills. Bonus points if you can schedule in some time for yourself. Efficient time management doesn't just help you get your homework done on time. It can also greatly reduce your stress load.
  2. Reach out. Oftentimes when someone feels depressed or alone, they tend to withdraw. This can lead to a dangerous spiral of self-pity and emotional build-up.
  3. Try to get a decent amount of sleep. College may be the nemesis of a good night’s sleep, but clocking less than 6-7 hours of sleep each night wreaks havoc on your emotional well-being.
  4. Look out for others who may be struggling. While it’s important to be aware of your needs and take care of yourself, it’s equally important to look out for others who could use a friend. Plus, helping others with their struggles helps you get outside of your own head and can provide a much needed shift in perspective.
  5. Get a healthy amount of exercise. Exercise creates endorphins, or ‘feel-good’ hormones in your brain, instantly improving your mood. It can also help you process all those emotions you’re feeling. With the Student Recreation Center right around the corner, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this great resource.

Below is a list of useful links and resources. Don’t hesitate to ask for help this semester.

https://www.health.arizona.edu/counseling-psych-services

https://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/student-assistance/faculty/student-assistance

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/


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