Over the past several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all felt a wide range of emotions, from anxiety and sadness to general overwhelm and frustration.
Pretty much anything you’re feeling right now is reasonable, psychiatrist Allen O’Barr said.
“You get to feel however you want,” said O’Barr, the director of Carolina’s Counseling and Psychological Services. “It’s all normal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not stressful. It doesn’t mean that it’s not distressing. Any response is normal, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need assistance.”
Counselors from CAPS are ready to provide that mental health assistance to help students cope with a stressful and challenging time.
CAPS will continue to provide all of its services — including consultation, therapy, medication management and referral coordination — remotely this semester to work with students no matter where they are. The program has been offering crucial mental health care for undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs virtually since campus first shifted operations to remote instruction in March.
“We had everything prepared and ready to go, everybody had Zoom capability from home weeks before everything shut down in March,” O’Barr said. “In essence, we’re doing pretty much everything that did before except we’re doing it remotely.”
Students can call CAPS at 919-966-3658 to be connected with a counselor for an initial assessment. The assessment helps counselors develop the best course of action for each student, ranging from referrals for services in the community to virtual therapy sessions through Zoom calls that comply with privacy laws.
“Sometimes people just need somebody to talk to two or three times, and then they’re fine,” O’Barr said. “Sometimes, they need more.”
A majority of CAPS services are free for all full-time students as part of their Campus Health fees. Students pay only for medication management and missed appointments.
CAPS also hosts a 24/7 hotline for students experiencing a crisis or who need immediate mental health support. The hotline, 919-966-3658, is staffed at night and on the weekends by clinicians who provide around-the-clock counseling and support.
“Don’t forget that we’re here,” O’Barr said. “This is incredibly stressful and that we’re all doing the best we can. We may not be able to solve all the problems, but you’re not by yourself. Give us a call. We’re here to help.”