Mason Family Flash

How to Help Your Student in Distress

Depression, Anxiety, and College Students
To no surprise, college life can be a demanding time for students. Managing schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and possibly even holding down a job can create stressful situations for students to prioritize. While stress is natural for all of us, an over-exposure to stress without healthy coping strategies and self-care practices can lead to more pressing concerns, both psychologically and physically.

As students adjust to the normal due to Covid-19, prioritizing mental and physical health has never been more of a priority for their well-being. The pandemic has brought attention to new concerns students are facing, such as loneliness and uncertainty, which can lead to more pressing concerns such as anxiety and depression with the added stress from college.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is no single cause for depression or anxiety. Often, it is an accumulation of causes that generate feelings of uneasiness, sadness, and worthlessness. Here is a list of common concerns known for creating stress on college students:

  1. Difficulty adjusting to new way of life
  2. Struggling to manage school work with other demands
  3. Being away from home, family, and friends
  4. Feeling alone and isolated
  5. Financial worries
  6. Conflicts in relationships

When to Seek Counseling
For some students, seeking help can be a challenging and even daunting task. In certain situations, a student may not recognize their need for counseling, making it important for their loved ones to notice any changes in the student’s behavior. Here is a list of signs to look for in your student:

  1. Stagnant emotional discomfort
  2. Loss of energy and difficulty sleeping
  3. Lacking interest in favorite activities
  4. Decline in personal hygiene
  5. Difficulties in memorization, concentration, and learning new information
  6. Irregular appetite and unexplained weight alterations

While there have been countless studies on college students and stress, there is no denying the importance of mental healthcare for college students. Fortunately, Mason’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Learning Services are here for your students, all at no cost.

CAPS and Learning Services
CAPS and Learning Services work together to ensure that students from all backgrounds are getting quality support, whether it be professional, psychological, or academic. In an effort to protect the health of students and staff, all services are being offered virtually at this time.

Comprised of licensed clinical psychologists, social workers, and counselors, CAPS offers group and individual therapy, workshops, support spaces, community education programs, and online services to Mason students. Students can learn more about CAPS’ services, upcoming events, and self-help resources at

Students who are experiencing significant moments of emotional distress can call CAPS between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to speak with a clinician. During after-hours and on the weekends, students can call CAPS at (703) 993-2380 and will be directed to press 1 to speak with a crisis counselor via ProtoCall Services.

In addition to CAPS, Mason students can explore Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) counseling, a free, strictly confidential interactive web-based program that provides 24/7 self-help resources on various topics, such as general worries, low mood, substance abuse evaluations, and interpersonal relationship communication. Students can also access online mental health screening services via Ulifeline, a free, online resource for college mental health.

For academic assistance, Learning Services is staffed by a learning specialist, graduate assistants, and peer academic coaches who provide one-on-one academic coaching, as well as academic success workshops. In addition to offering workshops on topics such as time management, note taking, and reading strategies, Learning Services has added a new workshop in collaboration with Student Health Services on Managing Burnout from Virtual Classes. The next session will be held on Thursday, November 19 at 4:30 p.m. Students can register online and will receive the workshop link via email.

Student Support and Advocacy Center
The Student Support and Advocacy Center (SSAC) mission is to provide an empowering environment for all Mason students to seek support services and to explore healthy life choices. If you feel your student is in need of help but is reluctant to seek assistance, SSAC can arrange an intervention with students who are encountering life crises or significant personal challenges to express the value in pursuing support services.

To-Do List for Helping your Student in Distress 

  1. Reach out to your student if you feel they are experiencing signs of depression and/or anxiety.
  2. Inform the student of their options and remind them they are not alone.
  3. Encourage your student to seek help by directing them to call (703) 993-2380 to get assistance from CAPS and Learning Services.
  4. Contact SSAC at (703) 993-3686 for a consultation about the wellbeing of your student.

Brandon Cantrell
Outreach and Media Specialist
Counseling and Psychological Services

*To receive more articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the Mason Family Association at