Tests, grades, lecturesIf you think thats bad, try staying up all night to cram for a mid-term exam. Did we mention, youve missed most of the tests and you havent eaten or slept in two days? For many college students, its a reality.
Peter Kahn, a staff psychologist and outreach coordinator at the Carruth Center for Counseling&Psychological Services and Student Affairs, says this scene is all too familiar around mid-terms at West Virginia University. Students have procrastinated, sometimes missing every lecture, and panic sets in. Freshmen are especially prone to stress because theyre juggling a heavy academic load and a new social life.
From personal experience, Ive found the problem is, students are used to routines and when their routines are disrupted, everything goes out the window,said Kahn.Students may have sailed through high school and suddenly, it gets tough here.
Students may be afraid to seek help
Whatever the problem may be, students are often afraid to seek help because of the stigma associated with mental illness. They may feel more comfortable talking to a friend or may even choose to reach out to a faculty member.
Students also frequently talk to staff members in the advising office, deans offices, financial aid offices or where they do their work/study hours,said Kahn.Caring staff are a tremendous resource at WVU , and staff members, as well as faculty, should be encouraged to refer students and to consult with us about concerns.
That is where the Carruth Center plays an important role. The center provides a free and confidential problem-solving resource for faculty, staff and students who may encounter someone in distress. With nine psychologists, three support staff and several psychologists in training, there is always someone available to consult with students whether in-person or over the phone.
We encourage students to walk in and just talk or a faculty member may walk them over,said Kahn.I think most faculty are experienced in handling these situations, but there are times when theyre uncomfortable or just curious.
He added,Its all about equipping students with life tools. The good news is, the word is getting out. It used to be, wed get a big swell of students, who hadnt been to class, in October around mid-terms. Were here to let them know theres an alternative to letting the semester go down the tubes.
When should you help?
Kahn says whether the cause is homesickness or academic anxiety, early intervention is crucial because if left untreated, even low to moderate levels of distress can lead to more serious problems such as severe depression, substance abuse or eating disorders. According to the Campaign for Americas Mental Health, one in every ten college students has been diagnosed with depression.
Signs of distress may include angry, disruptive behavior in class, repeated excuses for incomplete work or projects, a sudden drop in academic performance and a high number of absences from class. Kahn says that every fall, students come to campus with a whole range of psychological issues, including depression and bi-polar disorder, but also that help is available.
New drugs have enabled many students, who wouldnt have otherwise been able to attend WVU , live the college experience,he said.These issues are manageable if students exercise good self-care and take medication regularly.In some cases, the Carruth Center may make medication referrals. It also provides testing for learning disabilities for students referred from the WVU Office of Disability Services.
Sometimes high school doesnt catch learning disabilities,said Kahn,and when students come here, theyre easily distracted. They have a hard time concentrating and focusing, which college requires.
Carruth Center location and hours
The Carruth Center is located on the 3rd floor of the Student Services Building, next to the Bookstore wing of the Mountainlair. The center is open 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students may call 304-293-4431 for consultation and information. The same phone number can be used after regular office hours for emergencies.
Students are free to speak with a counselor on a walk-in or appointment basis. One counselor is available in the morning and two counselors during the afternoon. Students are permitted up to 12 appointments a year free of charge.
The staff is trained to assist students with a wide range of issues, including anxiety, stress and depression. University departments and organizations may request workshops on time management, test anxiety and other academic issues.