As the semester winds down and assignments pile up, it’s important to take care of your own mental health. It is pertinent to practice self-care and develop a better understanding of the resources available you can use in order to improve your own well-being.
Self-care is one of the most effective techniques to ensure your peace of mind. Small, simple strategies or changes in your life can really produce meaningful changes to your mental health. This article by the National Alliance on Mental Illness lays out numerous activities that can produce positive changes to your overall state of mind, including exercise, good nutrition, and better sleep. Check out this article from Spectrum that deals with the effects of “decluttering” your spaces—not just the physical ones, but the mental ones as well.
If you are ever feeling anxious, it may help to practice cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This can be done with a therapist or mental health counselor and practiced individually as well. CBT provides simple ways to practice alleviating worries by changing your cognition, thinking positively, and addressing the root causes of anxiety and fear. CBT also involves relaxation practices such as breathing techniques. CBT is a gradual process of changing the way you think, so results may not be immediate, but it is very likely that you will end up easing your problems as you continue to change the way you think.
Simple acts, such as yoga, have been shown to improve upon conditions of anxiety and stress. Yoga to the People on Broadway and 104th Street is a donation-based yoga studio that many Columbia students go to; you can rent a mat for $2, but if you invest in a mat of your own, you aren’t obligated to pay anything. You can even keep your mat there if you decide to visit frequently!
Self-care also extends to doing what you specifically need. In the end, every person is different, and that extends to your personal needs. If you really need to take a mental health day, take it—aim to make up the notes and try emailing your professors or TAs before class. It is very likely that they will be receptive, and you can also always turn to your advising dean at the Center for Student Advising for support.
Self-care for you could mean going for a run around campus, resting all day, or even watching a funny movie on Netflix. In the end, your health matters, and you should take care of yourself in the manner that is most effective.
Finally, one major tip regarding self-help is to talk to people who are close to you. If something is bothering you, there’s no reason why you should deal with it by yourself or feel ashamed of it. Plus, you could gain some insight by talking about your problems and spending quality time with your friends and family!
Reaching out to a professional
Reach out to a professional if issues surrounding your mental health are significantly impacting your ability to function, which may manifest as a difficulty to study, complete assignments, or participate in activities on campus.
While there can be a stigma attached to seeking help through a mental health professional, it is important to address the challenges you are facing and professional help can be a great way to start. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help, as mental health professionals have been trained to help treat mental health problems.
Mental health professionals offer a wide variety of potential treatments. Your treatment may consist of individual or group counseling, talk therapy, or even prescription medication in tandem with other treatment methods. It is possible to cope with the challenges you are facing and regain your peace and balance of mind.
Resources at Columbia
All of Columbia’s health and well-being resources can be conveniently found on the “Live Well | Learn Well” website. As part of Columbia Health, Counseling and Psychological Services offers counseling services and has offices in numerous places on campus, including the fifth and eighth floors of Lerner Hall; the first floors of Hartley, Broadway, Mudd (for School of Engineering and Applied Science students only), and Uris (for Business School students only); and the second floor of 600 West 113th Street, known as Nuss.
If you are registered for the Columbia Health program, you can register for an individual counseling appointment. Counseling initially starts with a phone appointment; afterward, in-person counseling may proceed depending on what the clinician determines is necessary. The point of individual counseling appointments is for counselors to understand the student’s mental health challenges and develop an individualized plan to proceed from there. In order to schedule an appointment, you can make a call to CPS at 212-854-2878. Psychiatrists at CPS are also able to offer psychiatric medication based upon their evaluations of the student’s condition and strongly urge against individuals abruptly stopping their medication once it is prescribed.
CPS offers drop-in counseling at its main locations and in other buildings, such as Carman and East Campus. Check out their hours and a full list of locations here.
Also, CPS has some unique online self-assessment tools regarding mental health that you can use at the click of a button. If you’re interested in taking ULifeline to learn more about your mental health or that of someone close to you, click here for more information.
Resources at Barnard
Barnard students can seek counseling at the Rosemary Furman Counseling Center, which is located on the first floor of Hewitt Hall and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Furman offers individual and group counseling for Barnard students, and presents an FAQ on counseling on its website in general which can be accessed here. To make an appointment, call 212-854-2092; you will arrange an initial consultation over the phone, which may lead to an in-person consultation later if it is so determined.
Furman promotes a “short-term therapy model,” with most students who use Furman visiting for only six consultations, but Furman also can offer referrals for long-term therapy if needed. Furman offers “listening hours,” or drop-in consultations, this semester at Plimpton Hall (Mondays 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) and at Elliott Hall (Thursdays 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.). Also, Furman offers a whole host of online resources that convey information on a variety of issues; they are available at this link.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with a breadth of information on mental health and potential ways to alleviate it. If you are experiencing mental health issues, you should know that you aren’t alone on this campus. The Columbia Undergraduate Well-Being site offers a breadth of stories and tips from individuals of this community who have been through stressful incidents and mental health crises.
Mental health is always a priority, despite how stigmatized and difficult it can be. Stay positive, and look for ways to help yourself, whether through self-care, support among your close friends, or help from professionals.