By Belinda Hinojos, PhD, licensed psychologist
Counseling and Psychological Services staff members share with our University of Nebraska-Lincoln students the profound feelings of shock and sadness following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
As we struggle to process this deeply troubling event, we acknowledge that many students may be struggling, as well. When these national tragedies occur, it is common to feel fear, frustration, anger, sadness and helplessness.
With such a tremendous loss of life, the impacts of this event reach across our country and communities. It is during these times that we should reach out to those in our support system. We at CAPS are here to provide additional support if needed.
Students can call the CAPS office at 402.472.5000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an appointment or reach out to us in the evenings if they are in crisis.
Students may also join CAPS Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center for Dish It Up, a dialogue on the recent events, their impact on mental health and how students can take care of themselves in the process.
It’s normal to want to fit in, be accepted and feel a part of the group. So when you stumble into a situation where there’s peer pressure, it can be difficult to navigate, especially when the pressure is indirect (e.g. You saw a friend try a drug and you feel curious about it or you’re at a party where everyone is drinking and you have FOMO).
When you are with people who share the same values, beliefs and preferences as you, peer pressure isn’t often an issue. But in college, you’re surrounded by people who are different from you, so it’s likely that peer pressure will creep up at least once during your academic career. In some instances, you’ll know exactly how to respond. In others, you might feel confused or unsure. When this happens, reflect on what is important to you: your values and who you want to be.
Here are our tips for responding to peer pressure:
- Know the norms. When it comes to pressure around alcohol or drug use, know that most students overestimate the number of people who drink or use. For example, in 2016, University of Nebraska-Lincoln students surveyed by the American College Health Association perceived about 93 percent of students had a drink within the last 30 days when, in reality, only 60 percent drank. Knowing that alcohol, drug use and “hooking up” isn’t as common as people perceive can help you better resist the pressure that “everyone is doing it.”
- Consider the pros and cons. You’re finally away from home and family and have the freedom to make your own decisions. Before you start to establish your own identity, consider what will happen based on how you act. Are there potential consequences and how could those affect your goals?
- Be selective with whom you spend your time. Give yourself permission to avoid people and situations that make you uncomfortable. Don’t waste your time with people who won’t respect your decisions or pressure you to do something you don’t want to do. As difficult as it may be, remember that you can’t please or be liked by everyone, and that is OK!
- Plan a response. Practice saying “No thanks” or simply “No.” If that response makes you uncomfortable, try “Thanks, but I can’t” or “Not today.” If you aren’t sure how to respond, delay your answer with “Let me think about it” or “Check back with me later” until you have time to make a thoughtful decision. If the truth is too challenging to say, it’s OK to make up an excuse. For example, when you don’t want a drink someone has offered you and you don’t want to say “No,” try “I have to work early tomorrow” or “I’m on medication, so I can’t.”
- Remove yourself from the situation. If you are feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, don’t be afraid to leave the conversation, the friend, the party, etc.
- Speak up. If you notice another person being peer pressured, stepping in to help can show your support and send a message that peer pressure is not OK. If you can’t directly confront them, invite the person being pressured to get away from the situation (e.g., “Let’s go get some water” or “Let’s go outside and take a selfie”).
Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center is here for you, whether it’s helping you navigate peer pressure, address your alcohol and other drug use and more. Visit our website for additional information or call 402.472.5000 to make an appointment.
By Will Wysocki, PsyD and CAPS staff psychologist
Did you know there are over 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year?
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In effort to increase awareness, decrease stigma and reduce shame, Counseling and Psychological Services would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the fact that suicide is preventable.
The first step in prevention concerns acknowledging the risk factors for suicide. Here’s what to look for:
- Statements about suicide ranging from passive (i.e., “I wish I didn’t exist.”) to active expressions of wanting to end one’s life
- Increased substance use in the form of alcohol or other drug use
- Drastic changes in mood
- Withdrawal from friends and peers
- Increase in impulsive behaviors
- Aggressive behaviors (emotionally, physically or otherwise)
- Preoccupation with death or dying in the form of writing or any other form of self-expression
- Students who start ignoring coursework, missing class, and appear depressed
- Intimate partner violence or violence from another loved one
- Changes in a student’s eating behaviors and/or weight, sleeping patterns, and interpersonal interactions
- Difficulty with adjusting to sexual orientation and/or gender identity
If you become aware of any of these risks and warning signs, do not hesitate to call CAPS at 402.472.5000. Students can call 24 hours/seven days a week to speak with a counselor. If a student calls after hours, follow the prompts to be connected to an on-call counselor.
Students can also utilize other resources such as UNL Campus Police, reachable from a campus phone at 2-2222 and an off-campus phone or cellphone at 402.472.2222. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
Know the risks and take action. Remember, suicide is preventable.
By Cynthia Von Seggern, PhD, CAPS group and outreach coordinator
College can be a stressful time, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Whether you’re struggling with homesickness, depression, substance use or navigating the campus community as a minority student, a support group may help you.
Support groups bring people together who are facing similar issues so that everyone can share their experience and give or receive advice. It’s a safe space to talk, listen and get the support you need to help you cope with your concerns or situation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some potential benefits of joining a support group include:
- Having an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings
- Reducing depression, anxiety, fatigue or distress
- Gaining a sense of control and empowerment
- Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect in your situation
- Feeling less lonely, judged or isolated
- Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
- Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
How To Find A Support Group
- Check the Counseling and Psychological Services website. CAPS offers support groups for a variety of audiences. They are open only to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, and most are free. If there isn’t a support group for you, contact CAPS. We may be able to start a new support group or refer you to a group in the community.
- Ask a doctor or other health care provider. They may be able to recommend a local group for you.
- Search online. Many support groups are advertised online and on social media. Online participation groups may be available as well.
- Contact local centers. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples or community centers in Lincoln may be able to help connect you to a local support group.
- Ask people you know with similar concerns. If you know someone struggling with the same situation, ask them if they have a support group suggestion.
Get The Most Out Of A Support Group
Joining a support group can be intimidating. You may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don’t know. Remember that it’s OK to simply listen at first. Over time, you may feel more confortable sharing your own ideas and experiences. Or are you a first time user of a support group? Try out our Drop-In Support Group where you can ask a CAPS therapist questions, receive support about any area of concern,or learn different tools for managing stress/distress and anxiety.
As beneficial as support groups are, don’t forget that they are not a substitute for regular medical care. Let your doctor or therapist know you’re participating in a support group. If you don’t feel the group is appropriate for you but you need assistance coping with a concern, condition or situation, talk with your doctor about counseling or other types of therapy.
CAPS is here for you. To learn more about us, call 402.472.5000 or visit health.unl.edu/caps.
If you’re a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, the chances are good that you will get sick or injure yourself at least once during your academic career. If that happens, Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center can help. We are your doctor away from home!
Before your first visit, here are a few important things you’ll need to know about how to access care at UHC:
- Making an appointment is easy. Call 402.472.5000 to schedule over the phone or stop by UHC if you’re in the area. You can even schedule some return visits with our One Chart | Patient phone app. If you are too sick to wait for an appointment, walk in services are available, but we recommend making an appointment to avoid a wait.
- Bring your NUID and an insurance card with you to your appointment. A copy or picture of mom or dad’s will do just fine. If you are able, download the Medical History Form from the UHC website, print it off, fill it out and bring it with you. Remember, if you are 18 or younger, we will need parental consent or this Power of Attorney form on file for you in order to be seen. Click here for FAQs about this form.
- Arrive 20 minutes before your appointment. That way you can complete the check-in process in a timely manner so that your appointment isn’t delayed. When you walk in, a staff member will be there to greet you and answer your questions. Don’t forget to sign in if you are using patient parking! Have your ID and insurance card out and ready for when your name is called to check-in.
- If you don’t have an appointment, and need to be seen immediately, let a staff member know. They’ll inform a triage nurse who will see you as soon as possible.
- Remember, we’re more than just a medical clinic! We have a full-service pharmacy, counseling and psychological services, a dental clinic, physical therapy and more!
To learn more about our services—and which ones are free for most students—visit our website.
The University Health Center is a great resource for students, so don’t be afraid to use it if you need it. Stay healthy, Huskers!
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.
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