George Mason University: Mason offers expanded options for emotional support

Patriots Thriving Together, an awareness campaign that focuses on improving and sustaining mental health and well-being, is offering the George Mason University community new opportunities to access mental health services.

“Navigating the pandemic has overwhelmed most people, and many of us have difficulty managing stress, low energy levels and a lack of motivation,” Robyn Mehlenbeck, director of Mason’s Center for Psychological Services, said. “It’s so important to address these issues, normalize emotions and reactions, and give people the skills to help them cope with the evolving pandemic and other stressors.”

The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, Student Health Services and the Center for Psychological Services recently joined together to ensure all members of the Mason community—faculty, staff, students and contractors—have immediate free access to brief mental health services.

While CAPS has been available for Mason students, now staff, faculty and contractors can access this free service. An emotional support telephone line 703-215-1898 is open from 8:30 a.m. – 8: 30 p.m., seven days a week. Anyone in the Mason community—faculty, staff, contractors, or students—can speak to trained mental health and first-aid facilitators who will provide specific ways to reduce anxiety and to increase energy.

Those who feel as though they need more support can sign up for the second step: in-person or virtual Brief Therapy Skills. Here individuals are offered up to three free one-hour sessions with trained doctoral students where they can talk through their struggles and learn targeted and active coping skills to tackle their concerns.

If more than the initial three hours are needed, individuals can move on to step three, which includes additional therapy sessions on an income-based sliding scale that is significantly discounted over the going rate in the community. In addition, sliding-scale medication management services are also offered through this program, if needed.

“It’s often difficult for people in the middle of a stressful situation to either recognize that they need help, or to feel like they can take the time to get it,” said Keith Renshaw, Psychology Department chair and professor. “These services offer tips and strategies that people can use to manage their stress and reduce their anxiety, depression, or simply feeling overwhelmed. It’s quick but highly effective, and it can make a real difference in their day-to-day living.”

Those faculty and staff who work with and are relied upon by students are encouraged to consult a resource created by University Life, which helps navigate difficulties students are facing including health concerns, personal losses, isolation, race-based violence, or uncertainty about their future. The information contained here can help faculty and staff recognize students’ concerns and guide them in managing challenges.

Mason is committed to helping support the well-being and mental health of its entire community and encourages anyone in need of assistance to reach out.

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