CMHS takes precautionary measures to handle stressed students

In this photo, the Jamie Homero Arjona building – which houses UConn's Counseling and Mental Health Services – is seen. Counseling and Mental Health Services has been preparing for the influx of stressed students due to the end of the semester, especially final exams. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Counseling and Mental Health Services has been preparing for the influx of stressed students due to the end of the semester, especially final exams.

Drop in consultation services, stress reduction workshops and "double staffed" emergency services are available for students during the most stressful time of the semester.

According to Elizabeth Cracco, director of Counseling and Mental Health Services and interim director of the Student Health Services, visits hit a steady peak around mid-October and stay at that level until the end of the semester.

"The busiest weeks of the year tend to be Weeks 8, 9, 10 of the semester with approximately between 640 contacts per week to a high of 669 contacts during the first week of November," Cracco said. "That said, we did reach 661 contacts last week.”

When the assignments are still in front of you during the most stressful part of the semester, that's when increased visits occur, Cracco said.

"During the end of the semester, the ‘end is in sight’ phenomenon and the recent break, can buoy many students and keep them out of urgent distress."

CMHS mostly treats for anxiety, which can be at a high during the end of the semester, and depression. Sometimes individuals with anxiety or depression may be reluctant to treatment.

Cracco mentioned that the "ship of good intentions” has sailed: It is counterproductive and a waste of energy to wish you had been a better student before this point.

"At this point, it is about managing the moment," Cracco said. "If you can manage each moment of stress, it translates to better functioning."

Students take varying tactics to combat stress, some being more healthy and helpful than others.

Wendy Kenyon, a fifth-semester psychology student, said she tries not to over caffeinate herself.

“I remind myself that grades aren’t everything and the best you can do is the best that you can do,” Kenyon said. “I also talk to my parents when I get super stressed out.”

Another student, fifth-semester cognitive science major, Bryce Hill, said that she plans ahead by studying early and making flash cards and study guides.

For students who feel stress but not enough to seek counseling, Cracco gives simple advice: use the body to control the mind, have an attitude of resilience and connect with each other to create a community of care.

Exercise, mediation, increasing sleep and curbing substance use are some of the strategies Cracco suggests.

“We all have our moments where life has handed us something beyond our coping capacity,” Cracco said. “In the end the pride and satisfaction of having faced this challenge to the best of your ability is a huge self-esteem enhancer.”


Claire Galvin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.