Counseling and Psychological Services resources at IU are all virtual this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The office is offering individual counseling, group sessions and free workshops.
“We’re offering every service that we’ve always offered, it’s just online,” said Chris Meno, associate director of CAPS.
Despite the pandemic, around the same number of students are using CAPS this year as they were last year, said Denise Hayes, the director of CAPS.She said she believes more students may use their resources because of increased stress this year.
“There’s worry about finances, worry about health, worry about protests and social injustice,” Hayes said. “The election is probably going to create some anxieties.”
The first counseling session students sign up for is a 30-minute CAPS-Now appointment that determines the student’s needs. Students will then be scheduled for individual sessions. The CAPS-Now session, as well as the first two counseling appointments, are free for students.
Virtual counseling sessions are only available to students living in Indiana or Illinois. This is due to state licensing issues, Meno said. CAPS can help direct out-of-state students to a call service where clinicians can connect them with resources in their states.
Students need to be in a confidential space for their CAPS appointments. Hayes said this is to protect the privacy of students
“Hopefully it’s a place where no one can hear you talking and no one is likely to interrupt you,” Hayes said.
If a student living in Bloomington doesn’t have access to a confidential space, they can book one by calling CAPS. These spaces, located on the fourth floor of the Health Center, offer stable Wi-Fi and laptops with video and audio technology.
“They’re for confidentiality or if someone is having Wi-Fi problems,” Hayes said, “Or if somebody is struggling in a relationship and they wanted to talk about that and be comfortable having those conversations.”
Syd Overtoom, a senior at IU, is living with their family 30 minutes north of Bloomington. Overtoom has been to both in-person and virtual counseling sessions at CAPS. They said virtual sessions offer new challenges.
“There’s definitely that feeling of not feeling as private as the in-person sessions,” Overtoom said.
Having CAPS as an affordable resource is especially important right now, Overtoom said. They said virtual counseling may be more convenient in some ways.
“I do think it is more accessible just because you can cater your time better because you don’t have to go onto campus to do this,” they said.
Along with their regular services, CAPS is offering tools to help students deal specifically with the global pandemic.
WellTrack is a free app that helps students track their day-to-day mood. Hayes said using the app, which offers relaxation and meditation tools,is especially helpful for students right now.
The Health and Wellness Department is offering a group called COVID Connections for students quarantining in Ashton Residence Center.
“They facilitate a discussion for students that are in isolation or in quarantine if they feel like talking to just feel connected and talk about their anxieties or depression or worries that they have,” Hayes said.
Appointments may be virtual, but Meno said students should still use CAPS as a resource.
"We’re continuing everything we’ve always done, we’re just sitting in a different place, that’s all,” Meno said.
Students can schedule their appointment on the health center website or call the CAPS office at (812) 855-5711.