Spring, the time to reflect on mental health

CAPS a provider of several mental health services



CAPS provides an after-hours line that allows students to speak to a counselor outside of CAPS business hours

ALISA VOLZ, Evergreen reporter

College is a stressful period of change so supporting students is of immense importance, said Dr. Jennifer Ellsworth, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on the WSU Pullman Campus.

Ellsworth said she is very passionate about helping college students with mental health and she was drawn to WSU by Coug pride.

“I remember walking around with a WSU t-shirt on in the little rural community where I lived in southern Utah and hearing a ‘Go Cougs,’” she said. “That was a whole new experience for me. I hadn’t encountered that in my experience as a student, so that’s a pretty special part of being at WSU.”

Many WSU students seek out mental health treatment themselves and are passionate about their treatment, Ellsworth said.

“It’s a really fun time to work with people who are pursuing mental health because they want to,” she said. “It’s also a time when there’s so much happening in a college student’s life. They’re figuring out what they want to study, they’re figuring out what they might want to do for a career, they’re living on their own for the first time. … It’s just a really rich time and I really love the work.”

CAPS offers services including individual and group therapy, as well as same-day crisis and consultation appointments. Ellsworth said students should know CAPS is always available to help them if they need it. 

CAPS provides an after-hours line that allows students to speak to a counselor outside of CAPS business hours. The line can be reached at 509-335-2159. 

Ellsworth said she encourages students to reach out whenever they feel they need help.

“It can take some time to get the courage to call or to find the time to call,” she said. “It’s pretty common for us to hear, ‘I know I’ve been needing to come in like all semester, and it’s April and I finally am doing it.’ Most students in that situation wished they had called sooner, so it’s a situation where an early start can be really helpful.”

If students do not feel ready to reach out to a counselor, Ellsworth said they can use Welltrack, an app that provides guided courses helping students who struggle with anxiety, depression, sleep and more. 

Dr. Jane Barga, a psychologist and training director at CAPS, said she hopes mental health becomes normalized by discussing the struggles people face.

“Facing challenges is a really normal part of our human experience and sometimes those challenges are internal,” she said. “It’s not anything that anybody wants, but it’s a part of our human experience and it can be really helpful to connect with services and get some support in understanding our circumstances and navigating them.”

Mental health is a part of our overall health, so it should be given equal care, Barga said. It is important for people to take time out of their day to practice self-care and support their mental health. 

“There are many different things that play into a person’s mental health, and so I think paying attention to those different aspects and taking care of those different aspects is gonna help us be able to function better and enjoy things better,” she said.