Mental Health

If you or someone you’re with is having a psychological crisis:

During regular business hours, contact the CAPS direct line at 931.598.1325; you will be asked to come to the Wellness Center and fill out an assessment form. The first available psychologist will attend to you. You can also come straight to the Center and speak with a support staff member. If you are having a crisis outside of business hours, please see below.

Do not email the Center if you're in a crisis--email is not a reliable means to obtain urgent assistance.  Please follow the instructions above.

If you have or someone you’re with has been sexually assaulted:
Please see the sexual assault resources information. You can also call both CAPS and Health Services for assistance at 931.598.1325. Calling CAPS or Health Services is a confidential resource.

After business hours, the after-hours emergency service is available for undergraduate students who are experiencing a mental health crisis after business hours.

Available 5pm–8am, M–F, on weekends, and during university holidays.

Anytime the UWC is closed.

Call 931.598.1700 to talk with an emergency crisis counselor by phone.

How do I know if I'm having a crisis?

I am in psychological CRISIS because:

  • I am having serious thoughts of suicide or doing serious harm to myself and may act upon them.

  • I am having serious thoughts of doing serious harm to another person and may act upon them.

  • I believe my life is danger.

  • I am hearing voices or seeing things no one else hears or sees.

  • I have been recently physically or sexually assaulted.


Crisis hotline off-campus

The Crisis Text Line is a hotline accessed via text message (instead of calling). The Text Line is free, available 24/7, and offers emotional support and information to anyone–not just Sewanee students!

 

Student Helping Another Student in Distress

Here are some guidelines to approaching a friend who may be struggling with a mental health problem:

Pick a setting

Talking about your concerns can be uncomfortable for both people. Pick a place where you both feel safe, but emphasize your friend's comfort. It should be a place where they feel on equal footing with you. Privacy is essential. Pick a time with flexibility. The conversation may be short, but just in case, make sure neither of you have anywhere to be immediately. You don't want to have to stop the conversation.

Avoid an ambush

You or several other people may be concerned about your friend, but approaching him or her one-on-one is the best practice. It prevents the friend from feeling overwhelmed and attacked. Don't be afraid to involve a friend's parent (if they're on good terms) or a professional. Your friend may be angry, but sometimes you need back-up.

Be prepared

Whether it's the first conversation or the fifth, be prepared to give your friend some resources to check out. Always carry the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Know how to contact and utilize the counseling center or local mental health services. Once you've had the conversation, your friend may want you to go with them when they call or go to their first appointment.

Take care

The person you are helping is lucky to have you looking out for them. But sometimes distress keeps them from appreciating you. Be prepared to be met with anger, denial and/or rejection. Know that you're doing the right thing, and their reaction isn't about you. Have your own support network. Helping a friend through a tough time can be hard on the helpers, too. Make sure you are looking after your own physical and mental health.

There are many more detailed resources about how to help a friend/student. For more information, please see:

Still not sure how to approach someone in distress?

Here are some questions you could ask them that might help get you started. These examples can get you thinking about things to say and how to word the “tough stuff.”

  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. I'm worried about you, is something going on?

  • What can I do to help?

  • How can I help you?

  • How long have you been feeling this way?

  • Have you spoken with anyone else about all of this?

  • Can I help you find someone to see about your concerns?

  • Are you getting the care you need?

  • It makes me afraid to hear you talking about dying; there is hope for feeling better, can we talk to someone about this?

  • Do you want me to go with you to the counseling center?

  • What do you feel like? What are you experiencing?

  • Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?

  • Have you ever had thoughts about hurting yourself?

  • Do you think you might be in immediate danger?

Formulating "I" statements

"I" statements are a critical tool when broaching any delicate topic with a friend. These statements help you express your concern without seeming judgmental and encourage conversation and problem-solving.

Start with

Continue with

For example

I feel ...

Emotion

I feel concerned

When ...

Situation

when you can't get out of bed

Because ...

Why

because I care about you.

I wonder ...

Suggestion

I'm wondering if it would help to talk to a counselor.

 

Employee Helping a Student in Distress

The following guidelines are intended to aid you in addressing a variety of student concerns or issues. It is critical that you distinguish between a student of concern and a student in imminent distress. If you are concerned that a student is in imminent distress (i.e., student is behaving in a way or shares thoughts that lead you to worry about his or her safety risk and endangerment of self or others), call 911 or 931.598.1111 immediately. Use the guidelines below when concerns arise that do not involve student risk of harm to self or others.    

  1. Engage–If you are concerned about a student’s well being, state your concerns directly. Be aware of changes in academic performance, attendance, participation, general social functioning, disruptive or abnormal behavior during class sessions. Be direct and clear about what you notice and what concerns you. Use a genuine, caring tone and words to help students speak about issues that may be confusing and/or embarrassing.

    For example, “I am concerned about you. You’ve missed two classes and no longer speak when you attend class. How are you doing?” Use a genuine, caring tone and words to help students speak about issues that may be confusing and/or embarrassing. For example, “I’ve noticed your grades and attendance dropping. I’d like to help you make some improvement. What’s been difficult for you lately? How do you think I might be of help to you?”

  2. Ask and Listen– Students may come directly to you to discuss a concern. You are not expected to have all the right answers immediately; no one does. Through open questions and reflection of what you hear, you create a space in which students can sit and discuss with you the concerns that bear on their well-being and academic performance. Self-disclosure may be appropriate and helpful, particularly if you have experienced similar distress and have had the opportunity to work through the issue with a significant other, a mentor, or a professional helper. When self-disclosing, keep the overall focus on the student. Your disclosure should aim to promote a sense of common humanity and to instill hope and impart wisdom in what you share about suffering and healing in your own experience.

  3. Advise and Refer –  Take time to explore ways in which your student may get the support necessary for change. Be aware that support comes from a variety of areas for students, and each student differs in terms of what she or he needs when facing distress. Students may identify a need for increased support from family and friends or from therapists or clergy. Not every student in distress needs or wants traditional counseling.

  4. When to refer to counseling. Counseling is a good option if a student is reluctant to share openly with family and friends. Ask a student about his or her thoughts regarding counseling before you suggest it. Students ultimately must make the appointment, but it is sometimes easier to do so when a trusted mentor or friend has called first and obtained information from the Wellness Center. Some students may wish to be seen off campus and lack information about available resources. Use the reference guide on the first page to guide students.  

  5. Follow Up – Several days to a week after speaking with a student, follow up to ask how he or she is doing, ask about efforts taken to address the issue previously discussed, and make direct observations about what you have noticed since speaking to the student.

  6. Know Thyself – Take time for self-reflection. Make an effort to center yourself as an individual who is caring and helpful but with firm personal boundaries and realistic expectations about your role as a proactive helper.