GC Mental Health Updates

GC+Mental+Health+Updates

Eric Boyd | Editor-in-Chief

The University System of Georgia has expanded their mental health services to help students combat the growing number of stressors brought on by COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, Director of Counseling Services Dr. Stephen Wilson says it was hard to keep pace with the growing demand for mental health services. Issues like anxiety, depression and substance abuse plaguing students have only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

To bolster mental health resources, USG has partnered with Christie Campus Health, a telehealth provider that offers free counseling, prescriptions for medication and a 24/7 support line.

GC already offers free counseling and psychiatric services for prescribing medication, but the 24/7 support line is a new feature that can get you in touch with a mental health counselor.

“They can basically do two things: Help get people through whatever they’re struggling with in the moment and second connect them with ongoing resources either back at the counseling center or back at Christie Campus Health,” Wilson said.

One of those ongoing resources is a new, self-directed cognitive behavioral training program.

“It’s guided self-help materials that can walk people through some challenges that make their anxiety worse or their depression symptoms worse,” Wilson said.

Most students come forward with anxiety, depression or substance abuse — all of which the service is equipped to handle.

More severe cases that require urgent attention get referred back to the university.

“If someone is dealing with something a little more severe, like a psychotic episode or an active suicidal episode [and] their life is in danger right now, then they’ll be referred back to the campus to deal with those issues,” Wilson said.

Ideally in those instances, a counselor would meet face-to-face with the individual on site.

The scope of their services is akin to that of the student health center. If a student needed surgery, they wouldn’t seek out the student health center. Similarly, a student in need of rehab for substance abuse wouldn’t seek out GC Mental Health Services.

Counseling services will assist a student until they feel their need has been met, but there is a 12 session cap on meeting with a counselor.

Wilson says most students require no more than five sessions to feel like their need has been met.

In the instances in which a student is still struggling once they’ve reached their 12, there are other options. They can attend group counseling sessions which don’t count against their 12. Counseling services will also assist them with a referral to the appropriate resource for additional help.

Students can access these new services at gcsu.edu/mentalhealth. The number for the 24/7 support line is 833-855-0085.

Getting connected to existing services remains the same. The counseling center is still open, and the care line, a number students can call to report concern for a peer suffering from mental health issues, can be reached at 478-445-RISK.

All of these services are free to students.