CAPS Staff: We Are Sickened by the Recent Events in Charlottesville

The staff at Counseling and Psychological Services stand with the statements NU President Hank Bounds and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green issued regarding the events in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend.

To quote President Bounds, “We are sickened by this senseless violence and by the racist, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi beliefs on display. These disgusting beliefs violate the most basic principles of decency and our shared humanity.”

We understand that students might be experiencing a great deal of sadness, fear, uncertainty and anger. We are here to listen. CAPS is here for you.

If you would like to meet with a counselor, call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment or stop by our free Drop-In Support Group, which meets Tuesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. in the University Health Center, room 213. 

CAPS Staff: We Support the Transgender Community

The staff at Counseling and Psychological Services support all University of Nebraska-Lincoln students. We know that recent statements made by the president and the Department of Justice may bring up feelings of fear, frustration, anger, sadness and hopelessness for our students. CAPS staff stand with the LGBTQA+ and military communities as well as their allies. We are available to support all students, regardless of their identities, values and beliefs.

We are here to listen and to help you process your reactions to recent events. Know that you are not alone and that you are not a burden.

CAPS is here for you. Call 402.472.5000 or stop by the University Health Center to schedule an appointment to meet with a counselor.

Statement about the recent military ban for trans individuals: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/07/transgender-military.aspx

Trans Lifeline: https://www.translifeline.org/

The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now

CAPS Staff: Talk With Us if Recent Events Are Affecting You

By Belinda Hinojos, PhD, provisionally licensed psychologist and Latinx outreach specialist

Philando Castile = No conviction.

Swastika painted on Haymarket building.

17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque.

U.K. Police Investigating Van Attack in London as Terrorism.

These were headlines featured on our news feeds this past weekend. With these headlines comes a flood of emotions: sadness, anger, helplessness, some desensitization and even fear.

Fear and threats to safety can drive anxiety, causing us to isolate, be hypervigilant of our surroundings and experience numbness, apathy and anger, all of which have long-term consequences on our emotional, psychological and physical health.

Counseling and Psychological Services recognizes that Nebraska students may be struggling to wrap their minds around the many emotions they are experiencing. We understand this affects all students, but it uniquely affects those from communities directly impacted by these events, especially their sense of safety. We remind students that we are available to sit and talk with you about how you are being affected.

CAPS staff members want you to know that we are committed to our students’ care and safety. We seek to be a safe space, now and always, where students can talk about fears, sadness, or concerns about discrimination, racism or harassment.

Call 402.472.7450 or stop by the CAPS office in the second floor of the University Health Center between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make an appointment. Walk-in appointments are available if you are in crisis. For after-hours crises, call 402.472.7450 to speak with a therapist.

 

CAPS Staff: Join Us In Recognizing Pride Month

By Kelsey Moran, M.S., Counseling and Psychological Services psychology intern

University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln value the students, faculty and staff who belong to and support the LGBTQA+ community.

Join us as we recognize National LGBTQA+ Pride Month in June. This is a time to celebrate LGBTQA+ individuals and achievements as well as remember the lives of late members of the community.

On June 28, 1969, the historical Stonewall Riots took place. These riots were led primarily by trans* women of color, which sparked national efforts to advocate for LGBTQA+ rights. Pride included a major shift to memorialize those who had died in the AIDS crisis throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

June 12, 2016, marked the date of the largest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. The attack at Latinx night at Pulse nightclub in Orlando targeted LGBTQA+ Latinx individuals and resulted in the tragic deaths of 49 people. Pride 2017 remembers those 49 individuals and others who have died, while also celebrating how proud LGBTQA+ people are to be themselves, particularly during a time when LGBTQA+ rights are being challenged by the current political administration.

Pride is an integral part of the LGBTQA+ community and their allies, and it is vital that the significance of Pride is not lost.

Pride month and especially the first anniversary of the Pulse attack may bring up different emotions for people. If people need additional support during this time or want a safe space to talk about their own identities, CAPS is here to help. Our staff work actively to be culturally competent and to create a safe and open environment for students to discuss their identities. Call 402.472.7450 or stop by the University Health Center to schedule an appointment.

CAPS Staff: A Response to “13 Reasons Why”

By Tricia Besett-Alesch, PhD, licensed psychologist/clinical psychologist lead, training director/associate psychology manager
You or your friends may have heard about or viewed the hit Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, based on the popular book by Jay Asher.  
 
The 13-episode series follows a group of high school students as they piece together a story left behind for them by their classmate Hannah Baker, who died by suicide and left 13 taped messages for friends and acquaintances. 
While this popular series sheds light on important topics (e.g., bullying, drinking behavior, sexual assault), there are some shortcomings:
  1. There is no mention of whether Hannah had a mental illness in any of the episodes. Mental illness affects one in five adolescents
  2. The series comes dangerously close to romanticizing suicide and misses a crucial opportunity to discuss depression and thoughts of suicide that is affecting so many teenagers and young adults
  3. There is no example of successful help-seeking. The series shows how one professional’s behavior was unethical and that counseling did not offer hope and resources. Unfortunately, it sends a message that mental health professionals are not a trusted source of help. There is a theme of silence throughout the story.
Furthermore, as Hannah’s classmates struggle with the aftermath of her suicide, there are no scenes highlighting the ways her peers reach out to talk with their parents, teachers, or coaches despite having a very difficult time coping with this loss. Without showing how to ask for help or that treatment and counseling are available and trustworthy, the show falls quite short on giving supportive examples of what to do and how to seek support. 
Please know University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services is here to help and is a trustworthy resource for you, your friends and peers. Talk to Us. WE can HELP. Call 402.472.7450.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can also text “START” to 741741 or call 1.800.273.TALK.
If you watch 13 Reasons Why, check out these important talking points developed by the Jed Foundation and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

How to Navigate End-of-Semester Roommate Conflict

By Danielle Parrish, LIMHP

If you haven’t already, you can start your countdown to the end of the semester. During this time, some of you may be experiencing end of the year stress. This may be caused not only by deadlines and exams, but possibly by roommate struggles as well.

The final weeks of the semester may not be the end of your relationship with your roommate, but remember this is not the time to work through every detail of every annoyance you’ve ever had with them.

Instead, focus on a temporary, solution-focused plan to get you both successfully through finals week (Later you can work through those bigger issues that have been brewing over time — Counseling and Psychological Services can help you with that, too!):

  1. Communicate – Set clear expectations by being open, direct and respectful ahead of time about what you need in order to be successful. Then, ask them what they need and really listen! This sets the stage to allow for ongoing dialogue to keep each other on track and to remind your roommate if they are not respecting your needs during times of high stress.
  2. Have a plan – Post a schedule of each of your final exams/projects so you can each be aware of the others’ level of stress throughout the coming weeks.
  3. Take accountability for YOU by practicing good self-care – Prioritize your sleep, nourish your body, stay physically active, shower(!), meditate, listen to relaxing music, spend time with friends and laugh.
  4. Support your roommate – Remember that they are stressed, too, and be there to support them, but also know your limits. Encourage them to rely on their friends and family and to reach out for professional support if needed.
  5. Get out of the room/apartment/house – Whether it’s a walk in the fresh air, a study session at the library or a coffee break downtown, just make an effort to change your scenery and take breaks from your roommate.
  6. Apologize when appropriate – We all make mistakes. If you’ve been the person who has taken out your stress on an unsuspecting, undeserving roommate, apologize! Then take some time to relax and do something fun together: watch Netflix, get ice cream or sit by the fountains at the Union.

CAPS is here if you need to talk. We offer individual counseling, free support groups, therapy groups and much more. Schedule an appointment by calling 402.472.7450.

Beat End-of-Semester Anxiety With These Tips

By Kylie (Xiping) Qiu, M.S., PLMHP

Our mind is like a wave. We can’t control the wave, but we can always learn how to surf.

No matter how busy we are, we all brush our teeth on average six minutes a day. We never question this routine, and yet when it comes to maintaining our mental health, many of us don’t do this until we are forced to because of a common reason — “I don’t have time.”

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But if we’re honest, this isn’t exactly true because we don’t skip brushing our teeth when we are busy. It all comes down to priorities.

We have to recognize that preventive care is just as important for our mental health as it is our physical health. Don’t wait until you have a mental break down to learn stress management!

How stress affects the body

Stress is our body’s response to a life-threatening situation, like suddenly stumbling across a venomous snack on a hike. On an abstract level, exams are the “life-threatening danger” for students.

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No one can avoid stress, but we can avoid anxiety. Our mind is like a wave. We can’t control the wave, but we can always learn how to surf.

To reduce our anxiety level while experiencing stress, we have to calm down first.

Be a bridge builder

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When “fighting” with finals, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is aroused by stress, anger or fear, which accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure — the physical feelings of anxiousness. When the sympathetic nervous system is working, our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is on leave. PSNS slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and glandular activity and relaxes the muscles.

SNS and PSNS are like two workers with their own shifts on duty. When one is always in charge and prohibits the other to work, it breaks the system’s balance. To make matters trickier, these two workers don’t talk to each other.

Don’t lose hope! The secret is that we were all born with the ability to manage and build bridges between those two workers. We do this by controlling our breathing and managing our judgmental thoughts.

Breathe to achieve mindfulness

Consider your natural breathing. Is it fast or slow? Deep or shallow? Stable or unstable? Breathing deeply and slowly can activate our PSNS. Intentionally do this whenever you can.

Manage your judgmental thoughts

Thoughts like “I need to skip this chapter because I don’t have time” or “I just couldn’t focus” help you make a decision, which is the type of thoughts we need. Judgmental thoughts like “I am stupid” or “it’s my fault that I didn’t study well enough throughout the semester, and see this is the consequence…” won’t help you manage stress because they hurt your self-esteem and confidence.

The three steps to thought management are:

  1. Recognize judgmental thoughts
  2. Observe your thoughts like a third party instead of reacting in your typical ways
  3. Let the thoughts go without reaction

You might say, “I couldn’t let it go.” That’s OK because you tried. You will build more skill and tolerance if you try it repeatedly.

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What else can I do?

  1. Educate yourself on stress management and take time to balance SNS and PSNS
  2. Evaluate yourself by scoring your anxiety or fear on a scale of one to 10 (10 being the most overwhelming) at least once a day
  3. Practice breathing skills instead of watching your cell phone during your study breaks. Intentionally slow down your breathing and make it as deep as you can, but don’t hold your breath. Follow these instructions:
    1. Sit comfortably. Devote 100 percent of your attention on your breathing. Breathe in all the air until your lungs are filled and then breathe out slowly until there is no air left. Repeat this five, 10 or 20 times.
  4. Repeat breathing skills until you feel much calmer or less stressed
  5. Manage your judgmental thoughts
  6. Plan six minutes in your daily schedule to focus on your mental health, just like brushing teeth
  7. Learn more stress management tips when you complete your final because you deserve to feel less stressed during your next finals preparation

If you need help managing your stress, talk with us. We can help. Make an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services by calling 402.472.7450.