CAPS Offers Mason Students Access to Innovative Health Services


By Isabella LaMagdeleine, Staff Writer

With classes, jobs, extracurriculars, friends, and the various other events in an average student’s life, college can be beyond stressful and may even become too much at times.

Most universities in Virginia provide various forms of counseling services to their students. Mason’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) takes a different approach, valuing a student’s overall well-being instead of focusing only on their mental health.

“At CAPS, we take a proactive and preventative approach to mental health,” said Rachel Wernicke, the executive director of the program

Located in Mason’s Student Union Building, CAPS offers students access to innovative services that emphasize both physical and emotional well-being. This includes programs such as “Sleep Better”, where participants learn about healthy sleep habits and how to develop them, and “Living Emotionally Healthy,  which teaches students ways to deal with feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

“We know that some of the information in our outreach programming can help students avert a mental health crisis and improve their emotional wellbeing,” said Wernicke.

CAPS is also in charge of holding Mason CARES events. CARES stands for Campus Awareness, Referral and Education for Suicide-prevention. Most other colleges have suicide prevention programs, but they do not go as in-depth and specific as Mason’s program. CARES is a two-hour training that helps participants become aware of what someone suicidal acts like, how to help them get professional help beforehand, and ways to actively prevent a person from committing suicide.

“[At CAPS], we also know that students are much more likely to use our services when they have made a connection with us in the community. We want to send the message that we are accessible, both to students who need our direct services but also to all members of the university community who may be concerned about a student and may want to consult with us,” said Wernicke.

However, many students may not have proper knowledge of the in-depth services that CAPS offers.

Junior Brian Dillaway said, “I think that everyone knows that CAPS is a resource, but most students are not aware of all of the services they offer outside of basic therapy.”

Here are some of the dates of several events that CAPS will host in upcoming weeks:

  • Managing Test Performance Anxiety – SUB 1 on Monday, Oct. 2 at 1:30 p.m.
  • Mindfulness Workshop – Enterprise Hall on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
  • Overcoming Procrastination – SUB 1 on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m.
  • Mason CARES Suicide Prevention Student Gatekeeper Training – SUB 1 on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 5-7 p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Mason Creative Services