CAPS offers resources for grief, racial trauma

Nataly Gutierrez, Reporter

With added stressors including an impending election, fully remote learning and a growing pandemic-related death toll, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at California Lutheran University is broadening its offerings to help support students.

“We have designed some drop-in programs for this semester, knowing that students are likely facing additional stressors and struggles, including loneliness,” CAPS Director Elisabeth Turner said in an email interview.

The types of programs that CAPS has created for students include Instagram videos teaching mindfulness activities such as yoga and meditation, a weekly grief support group, and a “Pathways to Wellness” series.

CAPS is not holding in-person sessions to respect students’ health and safety, however, they now offer teletherapy via phone and Zoom calls, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With the understanding that the pandemic may create an undue burden of grief or loneliness, Turner said CAPS has a procedure in place to protect students experiencing mental health crises.

“When there are crises on campus that involve the safety or wellbeing of our students, there are multiple protocols. This typically includes Campus Safety, and responding as appropriately with the necessary professionals or services that are needed,” Turner said. “If it is life threatening, emergency services are called and the university employees coordinate with those professionals. Typically a report is submitted to the [Campus Awareness, Referral, and Education (CARE)] Team so that there is a follow-up with any students of concern.”

Turner said CAPS professionals are also trauma-informed and available to support those experiencing racial trauma related to current events and their personal experiences.

“All of CAPS services and programs are trauma-informed with an understanding of racism, and other discrimination, that so many in our community experience,” Turner said. “Our Staff Psychologist, Dr. Miriam Barillas, as our Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, has ensured that we provide inclusive and equitable services.”

CAPS resources are accessible through their website.

Additional mental health resources

Students can also seek help for themselves or their peers through the CARE Team.

The CARE Team is a cross-divisional team of both staff and faculty that works to review students’ cases related to mental health, social, academic, or behavioral issues and create a support plan.

The CARE Team doesn’t perform outreach, instead, they rely on peers of students who are struggling to reach out to them.

“I would want to encourage other students who know that their friends or peers need help to contact the CARE so I can provide that outreach for them,” Care Case Manager, Salma Loo, said in a phone interview. “That’s all I want to do is to help our students, our community and to be there during this time.”

Another on campus organization that can support students’ wellbeing is Happiness Club.

According to Co-President Katie Statema, the club’s primary goal is to increase students’ happiness and promote positive coping mechanisms for turbulent times through simple social events such as blanket fort movie night, hot cocoa and chat, pumpkin decorating and root beer floats on the Spine.

Both Statema and co-president Dani Hazan are studying Psychology and considering entering counseling fields.

“Happiness Club is for everyone,” Statema said. “Right now, we’re planning tons of events with the goal of offering opportunities for fun, creating a welcoming space for friendship and community, and spreading positivity and kindness.”