The Carruth Center, WVU’s mental health center, has not seen much fluctuation in the number of students using its services despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Janice Shaw, a supervised staff psychologist, said the center is offering similar service rates to previous years. She said if all students were currently on campus, she believes rates would increase.
“We suspect that given that so many of our students are engaged in virtual coursework and are out of state that they are accessing clinical services in their home communities,” Shaw said. “Given the pandemic, we would anticipate having an increase in services if students were all on campus.”
This semester, psychiatry and crisis appointments have decreased, while attendance to outreach programs have increased, Shaw said.
The Carruth Center has been hosting a wide variety of events for students such as nature and self-care workshops, a wellness retreat, webinars and support/discussion groups for quarantined students. The center has also been collaborating with other organizations on campus, such as pumpkin painting partnered with the LGBTQ+ Center.
“In terms of outreach, with the pandemic we were aware that many students would not be returning to campus and we increased outreach efforts drastically,” Shaw said. “By doing this, we have been able to reach a larger and broader range of students.”
Shaw said most students using the Carruth Center services seem to prefer short term, individual counseling and attending the wellness programs in order to healthily manage during stressful times.
“It has been harder for students to connect naturally like they have been able to in the past, understandably leading to increased isolation and feelings of disconnect from others,” Shaw said.
Shaw said students have expressed anxiety and stress surrounding online class management, concern for at-risk loved ones and living during a pandemic.
“Additionally, although not a new concern, students in minoritized communities can also experience an added layer of stress due to systemic oppression,” Shaw said.
Students can access Carruth Center services through email, phone or texting the crisis line, which are all found on the Carruth Center website. Students who are currently residing out-of-state can access services through the My Student Support Program (My SSP).