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Mental Health and Safety on College Campuses

Last updated on May 1, 2020

An important topic during college that does not get enough attention is mental health and safety. It is often downplayed or overlooked especially at the college level. Many people, specifically college students, do not want to admit that they are struggling with mental health issues. It can be very challenging for a person to come to terms with a mental health struggle they are experiencing. The purpose of Project Bloom is to create an accessible, comfortable, and friendly environment for all people on Saint Joseph’s University campus. This includes mental illness as well! In order for a campus to be accessible to those who have mental health issues, there must be a service provided to allow students to discuss their struggles with a counselor in private. Luckily, there is a program at Saint Joseph’s University called CAPS. It stands for Counseling and Psychological Services. The services that the CAPS program at Saint Joseph’s University offers are individual counseling, group counseling, workshops, and outreach consultation. 

During these unprecedented times, the CAPS program is offering counseling via phone call due to the coronavirus pandemic. In place of in-person counseling services, CAPS is providing students the opportunity to consult with a counselor by phone to receive help for their concerns. To access the CAPS consultation service, students can call 610-660-1090 during regular office hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday), and provide the information requested. A CAPS counselor will return the call that same day.  They also compiled a list of other resources students can use to receive help regarding anxiety and how to deal with certain emotions people are going through at this difficult time in life.

One small issue with CAPS is the location of their offices. In fact, the majority of students don’t even know where they are located! CAPS is located in Merion Gardens A504, which for something as important as CAPS, is a bit remote for the average SJU student. As some students have never even been to Merion Gardens, here is a quick guide on how to get there. If you are anywhere on Main Campus, simply hop on the West Shuttle and it will take you directly to Merion Gardens. Once inside, just simply ask the security guard on duty for directions and they will gladly point you in the direction of CAPS offices. If you are driving just simply go to 701 City Avenue Merion Station, PA 19066. There will be places to park so don’t worry about that!

On the CAPS website, there are also a variety of tips for helping someone who is going through a crisis. These tips include clarifying the problem, communicating your commitment to helping, contacting appropriate professional staff, talking in a calm, direct, and reassuring manner, and staying until assistance arrives. There are also different hotlines that students can call to receive help if no one at the CAPS program is available.

The psychologists at CAPS are trained to deal explicitly with college students that are affected with mental health issues and disability as well as those who have problems at home, are dealing with excessive grief, are having trouble coping with stress, school, or both, and etc. Whenever something tragic happens on Saint Joe’s campus, CAPS reaches out to all students offering their help with appointments and walk-in hours. 

Project Bloom is an ongoing project created by Professor Hammer and students at Saint Joseph’s University to shed a light on how our campus affects those who are not finding access on our campus. Anything from students who are disabled or struggle with mental illness can find our campus illegible/legible. In the book, Building Access Universal Design and the Politics of Disability by Aimi Hamraie, he defines illegible and legible in terms of accessibility. Illegible is defined as unreadable and indecipherable. Legible is defined as clear enough to read or decipherable. For students who have a mental illness, there are programs on campus like CAPS that are legible to them. They can access these programs and receive the help that you need. Those with physical disabilities can find a building on our campus like Barbelin, illegible because there are strictly stairs in that building. In order to make our campus more accessible, it is important that we fix such things as a building with only stairs. For example, maybe a chair lift or elevator can be installed in this building to allow for more accessibility.

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Another term defined in Hamarie’s book is intersectionality. Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations like race, class, and gender. In order for there to be intersectionality on a college campus, it must be accessible for all people no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation, or disabilities they may or may not have. It is oftentimes overlooked. For example, if you are not personally affected by something like this, you are less likely to know the true effects that it has on people. An able-bodied person may look at a college campus differently than an individual who is in a wheelchair looks at a campus. When choosing a college to spend four years at, you will most certainly look into the accessibility of the buildings, dorms, and overall campus. A person who is suffering from mental health issues will most likely be attending a university with a program or counseling service that can help them work through their personal needs. A person who has celiac’s disease will most likely be choosing a university with a cafeteria that has an entire gluten-free section. These are important to people and ultimately need to do a better job at making college campuses more accessible for students as well as their needs. Project Bloom is an incredible project created to shed light on how this is an overall issue in society and we must do better in order to serve everyone’s needs in our community.

For more information regarding where to find help and guidance please visit https://sites.sju.edu/counseling/ .

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