The Counseling and Psychological Services office at Cal State Fullerton is located at the Student Wellness Center. (Eliza Green / Daily Titan)

With midterms and the end of the semester approaching, managing coursework on top of everyday life can be overwhelming, Cal State Fullerton is preparing to offer a comprehensive mental health program to help those experiencing stress brought on throughout the school year.

Counseling and Psychological Services offers students a variety of aid like wellness workshops, group therapy, psychiatry services, a 24-hour crisis help line, puppy therapy and more. Most CAPS services, except for prescription medications, are covered under the student health fee included in this semester's tuition.

CAPS, located at the Student Health and Counseling Center on campus, has a staff of 34 trained professionals to help with any mental health needs students may have - including 26 mental health counselors, three doctoral interns, two counseling practicum students, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a wellness integration specialist.

Jacquelyn Gerali, prevention education coordinator and faculty counselor at CAPS, said that sometimes when mental health concerns are left unaddressed, they can get worse or affect people in unhelpful ways.

“The fact of the matter is, we ask for help all the time in our daily lives; we go to the doctor when we need medicine, go to a mechanic when our car is making strange noises, and when our stressors feel unmanageable, we can seek mental health services,” Gerali said.

Attending drop-in and workshop group sessions are the fastest ways to address some mental health concerns. Group sessions are hosted Monday through Thursday, and include: Chillin’ with CAPS, Managing Strong Emotions and Returning to Campus Life, Dealing with the Uncertainty of our new Normal.

“One of the scariest things is just taking the initiative to try it,” said Zoe Adriel Amba, a fourth-year biology major. “Once you take that step to get the help, things get so much easier from that point on.”

Amba said she initially visited the SHCCfor a stomach bug. She then took the General Anxiety Disorder 7 exam, a brief questionnaire that measures the severity of general anxiety. Amba said that after scoring high on the survey, she was asked if she wanted to make an appointment with a counselor.

Amba said she got very lucky with who she got as a counselor and thinks the school needs to have professors actively promote CAPS throughout the semester.

“I pay attention more to professors who are like ‘Hey, we made it to the halfway point. If you’re still struggling, here are some resources.’” said Amba. “Around the time things get stressful, like midterms, like finals, I think would be a really good way to promote CAPS.”

CAPS developed a new initiative this year, the Mental Wellness Peer Educator Program, to further promote the mental health services on campus, which are designed to have students help and educate each other as a preventative measure.

“Peer-to-peer support has proven to be immensely beneficial for the mental health and wellness needs of diverse groups of students. CAPS is so excited to have this new addition to our department and foresees this program being extremely beneficial for CSUF students’ mental wellness needs,” Gerali said.

Gerali said that there are students on campus who have had coping mechanisms in the past to manage their stress which may no longer be working.

“What has worked in the past, may not be working now. If what someone is doing isn’t working for them anymore, it may be time to look into different solutions. Seeking assistance can mean so many things. For CSUF students, there are a variety of options,” Gerali said.

Gerali said that there are future plans for CAPS to expand into Titan Hall and host new mental wellness courses. No further information was given as to when that will be.

Not all services require appointments, but consultation appointments can only be scheduled via telephone at (657) 278-3040. Students can also follow CAPS on Instagram @csufcaps for upcoming events and mental health education.

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