CAPS psychologists offer telemental health services for students

Establishing a routine can be used to help students cope; increasing social interaction can help emit more positive emotions

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ANNIKA ZEIGLER

Counseling and Psychological Services psychologists are using Zoom and phone calls to speak to patients. One licensed psychologist suggests people should form a routine to help them become productive.

ANGELICA RELENTE, Evergreen reporter

The Counseling and Psychological Services under Cougar Health Services is offering telemental, or remote, health resources to WSU students who are still in Washington state.

Loren Brown, associate director at Counseling and Psychological Services, said CAPS can help those who are currently out of state to connect with local services in their area. 

CAPS psychologists are using Zoom and phone calls to speak to patients while still remaining HIPPA-compliant, Brown said. Students can schedule an appointment by phone like normal. 

At this point in the semester, the number of students scheduling appointments at CAPS is lower than usual, he said. This may be because for some students, being at home with family lowered some of the stressors or difficulties they are facing. Other students, on the other hand, may say otherwise. 

“We have some students who are trying to figure out a lot of things and deal with a lot of stuff and maybe going to counseling isn’t a big priority for them right now, and that’s okay,” Brown said.

One of the ways students can cope with the uncertainty surrounding them is to have a routine, he said. Needing to think through things can use up energy, whereas having something to follow would not. 

“Routines are helpful because they give us some sense of stability or something that feels familiar,” Brown said.

Jane Barga, licensed psychologist at CAPS, said routines also help people become productive. Most people have struggled with motivation since the pandemic occurred, she said, so having a routine might just help them with that.

Brown said creating a routine or building a habit may be challenging, but there are ways to work toward it. Having alerts or visual reminders are one of the ways a person can start.

“If there’s something that you want to do more of, try to make it easier to do,” he said. “If there’s something you want to do less of, try to make it a little bit harder to do.”

Having more social interaction is another way people can cope at this moment in time, Brown said. Having connections with other people emits positive emotions that help people go through things. 

“There’s something about feeling like other people are going through the same thing … that makes it just a little less painful,” Brown said. 

Barga said humans are social beings. If a person is alone too much, they can get lost in their own thoughts and feelings. 

“Connecting with other people can keep us grounded and help keep us from going down a rabbit hole,” she said.

Brown said being selective with the type of media and how much one consumes can also help limit stress.

Barga said it is helpful for a person to limit the media intake just to the point that it is not too overwhelming.

“I don’t think the solution is to say ‘I’m going to watch nothing. I’m gonna bury my head in the sand and have no contact with anything because it’s stressing me out,’” Brown said. “I think it is helpful to be informed.”

Practicing self-compassion is another way people can cope, he said. Sometimes people are okay with talking bad about themselves even if it is something they would never say to a close friend. 

“It’s not helpful to beat ourselves up for things that we’re struggling with and being challenged by,” Barga said. “It just adds weight or pressure.”