A freshman’s guide to on-campus mental health assistance

mental health at the university of houston

CAPS is located at Student Service Center 1 and offers help for students experiencing difficulty with their mental health. | File Photo/The Cougar

Going away for college, whether it be for the first time or just the start of a new semester, can be a stressful experience that has the potential to take a toll on an individual’s mental health. Tougher classes, homesickness and a new social environment can seem overwhelming — and it is.

In a 2014 survey of 150,000 college freshmen, 34.6 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their course work and other commitments, while 9.5 percent reported feeling depressed at some point in the last year. Both of these reported percentages are higher than those previously reported in 2009.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides resources and assistance to students who are feeling overwhelmed, depressed or who are experiencing other mental health issues.

What is CAPS?

CAPS is the University’s on-campus counseling and therapy center, providing students with access to mental health help from certified counseling professionals.

The service is designed to promote “the well-being of the diverse campus community” by combining mental health services and clinical training with easy access to cultivate “student success through self-discovery, learning and interpersonal engagement,” according to their website.

How can students access CAPS?

All students that are enrolled in at least one class at the University of Houston have access to the clinical services CAPS offers. Students can walk-in to CAPS for an appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

What happens when students go to CAPS?

The most common issues CAPS clients tend to be experiencing include depression, anxiety, stress, interpersonal conflict, identity conflict, trauma recovery and career indecision, said administrative assistant of CAPS support staff Turia Abdulrahman.

CAPS provides one-on-one mental health services for individuals, in addition to services for groups and couples.

“Individual counseling is available for UH students who are seeking assistance with personal concerns,” Abdulrahman said.

CAPS also offers couples counseling, even if one partner does not attend the University, and group counseling.

“Individuals meet weekly with other group members and one or two clinicians to explore new ways of coping, behaving, and interacting with others,” Abdulrahman said. “Understanding Self and Others groups are our most utilized groups. (They) are interpersonal process groups that focus on a variety of common concerns.”

What about the cost?

The initial walk-in appointment and evaluation is free of charge, according to CAPS’ fee breakdown. Following this initial appointment, individual counseling is $5 per session, while couples counseling is $10 per session. Group counseling is always free.

What if a student knows someone in need of help?

If a student is in need of help outside of regular business hours, CAPS has an after-hours counselor on call to handle crises and immediately sensitive situations; the number can be found on their website.

“CAPS is here to support you, and together, we can promote student success at UH,” Abdulrahman said. “If you become concerned about a student’s behavior, it is important to be informed and know where to get help.”

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