For the first time, the Counseling program at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center and the Counseling and Psychological Services at U.Va. (CAPS) hosted two consecutive Mental Wellness Screening Days on Feb. 19 and 20, which yielded a record of 63 total screenings in the Spring Semester compared to 34 two years ago.
Charlotte Chapman, Director of Counseling at the Women’s Center, believes one of the major reasons for the increase is that “several student groups as well as staff and faculty have been working to decrease the stigma of issues like depression and anxiety and eating issues. By re-labeling this to mental wellness [instead of health] screening it normalizes it. Anyone can use a mental wellness check up just like you would a physical check-up.”
Margaret Edwards and Cathy Erickson were the counselors at the Women’s Center who conducted the screenings. The Center decided to offer an additional day of screenings when approached with the opportunity by Assistant Director of Outreach and Liaison Programming at CAPS, Andrea Iglesias. Other student groups had signed up do events throughout the week as well.
“Our thought was that some students might not be able to make it to the screening on the 19th so it would be good to have one scheduled on another day. Also some might prefer the environment of the Women’s Center which is more private than Newcomb Hall,” Chapman said.
Other than seeking screenings for themselves, some students visited the Women’s Center for information about how to help a friend.
This past October, CAPS with support from the Women’s Center, screened 98 students at its fall semester Mental Wellness Screening Day. This means that a total of 175 students received screenings at these events over the course of the 2014-2015 school year.
CAPS was grateful for the help of the Peer Health Educators, Counseling interns and practicum students, CAPS staff Nicole Ruzek, Karen Painter and Andrea Iglesias, as well as the Women’s Center.
Chapman believes that the addition of Iglesias has helped to increase the approachability, visibility and accessibility of Counseling services at U.Va. to students.
“With Dr. Tim Davis [Director of CAPS] creating the position at CAPS and hiring Andrea, it gave us a staff person on campus whose priority is outreach. Up until that time, outreach was something everyone did in addition to all of their other job responsibilities.”