In my last two columns on mental health, I’ve been rather vague in my references to mental health resources on campus. I want to take this opportunity to outline what’s available to Stanford students to support you and give you the tools you need to thrive.
Don’t write this list off! Chances are, at some point, you or someone you know will benefit from the incredible safety net that hundreds of staff, students and administrators work to put in place for you. Educating yourself about what’s available will prepare you to help yourself when you are in need or give you the knowledge to help a friend in need. This list of resources, which will be presented in two parts, is a good one to know and love. Today, I’ll be profiling the two services that I’ve come to view as the nuts and bolts of our help system and next week, I’ll describe more specific offerings.
The Bridge Peer Counseling Center:
What it is: The Bridge, the oldest peer counseling center in the country, is located in Rogers House, not far from Tresidder (check a map). It offers anonymous and free peer counseling to the Stanford community and public. All staffers complete two quarters of training and are available to talk about anything from roommate conflicts to academic stress to relationship issues to sadness – you name it, we’ll listen!
How to use it: Walk into the house and look for the staffer in the first room on your left from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. or call 24/7 at 650-723-3392.
The secret to success: I urge you not to view the Bridge as a last resort or as a place to go only if all hell is breaking loose (i.e. you have three midterms in the morning, just broke up with someone and haven’t slept in four days – although we’re here for you then, too). Instead, I’d encourage you to view the Bridge as just that: a bridge that can help you get to the resources you need. Call the Bridge to de-stress before a big job interview, to discuss a weird encounter at a party last night that has your mind wandering, or to talk about your next PWR paper.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS):
What it is: Every Stanford student, whether you have Cardinal Care or private health insurance, gets the equivalent of one free counseling session per week from highly trained counselors at CAPS, located on the second floor of Vaden. Counselors come from a variety of backgrounds and you can choose to talk to someone who specializes in body image issues, LGBTQ issues or depression, just to name a few. CAPS also offers student grief and bereavement workshops, all-gender multicultural body image groups, and couples counseling.
How to use it: While making an appointment online at vadenpatient.stanford.edu, select Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and then click on “CAPS Phone Screening Appointment” if it’s your first time. Don’t be scared away by this quick, one-time screening procedure that involves a 15-minute phone conversation with a counselor. You can also make an appointment online by calling 650-723-3785. If you don’t feel like you mesh with the first counselor you meet, schedule an appointment with a different counselor. CAPS lets you “shop around” until you find someone you’re perfectly comfortable with. For urgent situations, call 650-723-3785, and the clinician on call will get back to you within 20 minutes.
Helpful hints: There seems to be a popular belief at Stanford that going to CAPS is a synonym for becoming an inpatient at the nearest psychiatric ward. Whenever I mention that CAPS is a great resource for talking out issues to a counselee on the phone during one of my Bridge shifts, the phone goes quiet. While the stigma surrounding “going to counseling” may not be that bad here at Stanford, I often find myself wondering why I don’t see a line of students flooding into the Cowell Cluster parking lot as they await their weekly counseling sessions.
Let’s take a page out of Argentina’s playbook, where it’s considered hip to see a counselor once or even twice a week, and get what we’re paying for! Give me one good reason not to go talk to a friendly, highly trained person about your life and get help managing stress, relationships or even your to-do list and I’ll let you off the hook. Once you’ve left the Stanford bubble, these sessions will cost you upwards of $150/hour, so why not take advantage of the opportunity while it’s FREE?
Seriously, email Emily one good reason anytime at email@example.com.