Mental Health Awareness Month | Q&A With Dr. Allison From-Tapp on Anxiety, Depression, Easy Ways To Get Help

Dr. Allison From-Tapp, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
Allison From-Tapp head shot

In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month in May, here is a Q&A with Spalding Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Dr. Allison From-Tapp on issues related to mental health:

What are some types of mental health issues that college students may be experiencing or that are common among the students who visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) center?

Across the country, anxiety and depression are typically the top two reasons that bring people to therapy, and that is the same at Spalding. All people feel some levels of anxiety because it is a motivator to help us get things done. Unfortunately, sometimes that anxiety takes over in a way that is not helpful. Most people who come to CaPS are experiencing some levels of anxiety that are no longer helpful to them. We can talk through ways to help bring that anxiety back down to helpful levels. Many of the students we see have also experienced some sort of trauma in their lifetime. Trauma also often leads to anxiety and sometimes to depression as well. Those are all things we can help someone work through, but students also come to us for a variety of other issues and we welcome talking about them all.

What are some everyday ways that people can help relieve anxiety in their lives? Are there any resources you can offer?

There are many ways to lower anxiety, and we can help you figure out what works best for you as each individual is unique. There are lots of things you can try on your own, with or without the help of a therapist. Mindfulness has been repeatedly shown to be excellent at reducing symptoms of anxiety. CaPS has a YouTube channel with many videos to help you get started with mindfulness. There are also brief videos (in the Mindful Monday section) to guide you through breathing and other exercises. Just taking five-minute breaks throughout the day to focus on breathing can help lower your anxiety and get you reconnected to what is important to you.

Here are some other great websites to check out with many more tips:

What are some signs that you or a friend may be experiencing depression? What should you do if you are experiencing some of these signs, or if you notice that a friend or loved one is experiencing some of them?

Some of the signs of depression may be seen in a change in behavior. This could include things such as sleeping more than usual, drinking or smoking more than usual, not being as talkative, being withdrawn or sad, or seeming angry or irritable more than usual. If your friend is experiencing any of this, please encourage them to email us to talk it through. The most they have to lose is a couple hours of time. If you want to check things out before emailing us, you can also take a screener at the Mental Health America site. They have screeners for different issues. If you or a friend are having any difficulties, please email us. You can’t schedule an appointment for a friend, but you can sit down with them and encourage them to send us a message.

This year’s national theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is, “You Are Not Alone.” How important is it for people to understand that they do not and should not have to endure a mental health struggle alone?

That is extremely important. Individuals who contemplate suicide often say they felt alone and hopeless. So many people do not talk about their struggles, so they do not realize how many other people are struggling, and sometimes they are struggling with similar things. Many times, the first bit of relief comes from knowing you are not alone and knowing that someone else wants to walk this journey with you.

How can Spalding students get in touch with Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), and what might a student expect about how the process will go if they reach out? What does it cost?

Getting in touch with us is as simple as sending an email. Since we are continuing to do mostly telehealth for the summer, we monitor our email every weekday and work to get people scheduled as soon as possible. You can start with emailing [email protected] and all you have to say is, “I would like to schedule an appointment.” You are welcome to say more than that, but sometimes people struggle to find the “right” words to get started. We want it to be as easy as it can be. Once you email us, our assistant will get back to you with some online paperwork and then we will work to get you scheduled. Once the paperwork and scheduling are done, your assigned therapist will send you a welcome email with a link for the telehealth session. In that first session, they will spend a little time getting to know you and what they can do that day to help. If you want to come back after the first session, they will get that scheduled for you. The second time they will probably ask for a little more background information and you will keep getting to know each other so they can help in the best ways. As long as you are an enrolled student, there is no extra fee for anything we do at CaPS.

Anything else you’d like to add during Mental Health Awareness Month?

Everyone feels anxious or sad sometimes, and some of us feel it more than others. We do not want it to become a time of intense suffering for you. Please come see us and share your feelings with us so we can help find the tools that fit best for you and your life. Help reduce the stigma of mental health issues by sharing your feelings with others and if you come see us at CaPS, tell your friends and encourage them to come if they need a little extra support. Regular, healthy people come to therapy to stay regular and healthy! Also, if you have a question about your mental health and you do not know who to ask, feel free to send me a personal and totally confidential email. If I do not know the answer, I will help you find it. [email protected] Our whole staff is here to help, please just ask.