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University offers mental health aid

By Adam Rubenfire, Daily News Editor
Published April 4, 2012

In light of the recent off-campus deaths of two University students and as finals season fast approaches, mental health professionals from across campus, in interviews with The Michigan Daily, urged students who are struggling to utilize the variety of services offered to students with psychological difficulties.

One of the most visible mental health resources on campus is Counseling and Psychological Services. CAPS provides a wide array of services to students seeking help with psychological and behavioral issues. In addition to CAPS, the University also offers immediate guidance to students at the University Health Service and at the University Hospital through its University of Michigan Health System Psychiatric Emergency Service program.

CAPS aids with preventative and proactive services

CAPS Director Todd Sevig, the campus lead for student mental health, emphasized the role of CAPS in identifying mental health problems in students, faculty and staff.

“We know, the sooner you catch things and the earlier you intervene, you have a better outcome,” Sevig said. “So with mental health care, what we’re talking about is the whole host of wellness services, of online quick things that you can look at … and we know that that prevents things from getting worse.”

Sevig chairs the University’s Mental Health Workgroup — a group of medical professionals, psychiatric and psychological professionals, administrators and an attorney from the Office of the General Counsel who recommend improvements to mental health prevention and treatment services on campus.

CAPS offers scheduled appointments for students who do not require immediate care but would still like to talk with a therapist. Drop-in therapy groups are also available, as well as crisis intervention services.

In addition to scheduled appointments, Sevig said CAPS also offers same-day walk-in care for individuals who require immediate psychological assistance during their business hours.

In addition to CAPS' many proactive education and prevention programs, Sevig said CAPS staff has trained more than 3,000 students, faculty and staff to notice if their peers begin to demonstrate mental health issues through the Question Persuade Refer program. The program educates people on how to respond to situations in which an individual has suicidal thoughts.

Though he encouraged individuals to become trained in QPR, he stressed that those who are not QPR-trained can still follow the general tenets.

“The first thing is to take time to talk with the person and to listen,” Sevig said. “The second thing is to say, ‘Gee, I’m wondering, are you thinking about hurting yourself?’ And then, the third thing is to persuade that person to get help.”

Sevig encouraged friends and professors who are concerned about an individual to personally help them through the process by referring the student to CAPS.

University of Michigan Health System Psychiatric Emergency Service can assist during emergencies

Much like the University Hospital’s emergency room, the University of Michigan Health System Psychiatric Emergency Service serves as an emergency center for individuals experiencing mental health issues that require urgent attention.

Rachel Glick, medical director of the UMHS PES, said the service — which is located near the UMHS medical ER — is staffed with about 70 mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and medical assistants and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Glick said patients who initially enter the medical ER are often referred to PES if their symptoms are psychiatric in nature.