Having trouble coping? CAPS is here to help

Psi+Chi+hosted+a+mental+health+fair+in+2019+to+raise+awareness+of+mental+health+issues+and+resources+on+campus

Erik Rotness

Psi Chi hosted a mental health fair in 2019 to raise awareness of mental health issues and resources on campus

By Aaron Hutchinson, Reporter

EWU students seeking mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic will still be able to use EWU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), albeit with some changes.

CAPS’ stated mission is to: “Support and promote the emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual health and wellness of students, staff and faculty of Eastern Washington University.” That mission has not changed this quarter, even as the campus remains shut down. 

“Like the rest of the university, our services have been updated due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Michael Ochi, a psychological counselor at CAPS. “[W]e still offer individual counseling and ‘phone-in’ sessions, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) and referrals to off-campus providers through Thriving Campus.”

Ochi added that faculty and staff can receive brief consultations and that CAPS has set up a resource page to help the EWU community cope with the shelter order.

 Students interested in doing individual counseling over the phone can call 509-359-2366, complete the intake form or update their records, and then schedule an appointment. The TAO platform has several self-help modules and videos to help students who prefer to work on their own, according to Ochi. 

“[W]e still offer individual counseling and ‘phone-in’ sessions, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) and referrals to off-campus providers through Thriving Campus.” -Dr. Michael Ochi, Psychological Counselor 

The transition to remote counseling isn’t without challenges, said Ochi. He cited confidentiality concerns, lack of in-person observation and keeping in contact during high-risk situations as some of the biggest challenges. 

“We’re also seeing each other in non-neutral environments,” said Ochi, “which adds different elements to the therapeutic relationship.”

The staff at CAPS are working hard to overcome these challenges. Ochi said that the staff has participated in training sessions with experts in the telemental health services field. He added that staff and clients have been able to collaborate in some unique ways to address individual situations.

Students may be facing new challenges due to COVID-19 and the associated “Stay home, Stay healthy” order.

“Some people have been struggling to adjust to working or going to school at home,” said Ochi. “It can be difficult to switch roles without switching our environment.” 

Illustration by Heidi Watchel
CAPS is located in room 225 of Martin Hall

Ochi also brought up relationship issues, noting that many relationships suddenly became long-distance or no contact relationships, which may add stress for one or both partners.

“People are also talking about experiencing cabin fever,” said Ochi. “And an increase in mental health symptoms, and an overall sense of irritability.”

Ochi noted a few ways to help overcome some of these stressors.

“There are many benefits to going outside besides getting out of the house,” said Ochi. “Taking a walk or bike ride, gardening, or reading a book on the grass are some ways to change the scenery, change the mood, and still practice social distancing.”

Ochi said that students interested in CAPS services should call 509-359-2366 if they have questions about services. They can also email [email protected] for outreach services.