Below is a list of common concerns that college students face each day. This resource is meant to provide you with some basic information on each concern. It by no means is an exhaustive list of every concern faced by college students and it is not meant to be a self-diagnosis tool. If you feel like you, or a friend, might be struggling in one of these areas then please call and set up an appointment to discuss it further with a counselor.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health depression affects approximately 25 million adults in the United States each year. Women are 70% more likely to be clinically depressed than males. If untreated, the symptoms of depression tend to get worse over time. Depression has a tendency to affect the everyday functioning of those dealing with it.
Common Experiences Associated with Depression
Common experiences related to depression can include a loss or increase in appetite, difficulty sleeping, a loss of energy, a decrease in mood, a loss of interest in activities that were normally interesting, loss of concentration, low self-esteem and self-worth, and feelings of worthlessness. Some people express feeling “slowed down” meaning they may move or speak slower than usual. Many reasons can potentially contribute to a depressed mood. Some of these reasons are genetics, brain chemistry, life circumstances, substance abuse, age, sex, physical illnesses, etc…
Things You Can Do
Good self-care techniques can lessen the symptoms of depression. This includes getting regular exercise for about 30 minutes a few times a week. Choosing healthier options including fruits and vegetables can also assist in increasing mood. Trying to get a regular “dose” of sunlight will also help. Seeking the support of friends and family can assist someone in processing some of those issues that may be difficult. Make sure to engage in enjoying activity and just have some fun.
If you are feeling depressed and do not seem to be getting better then coming to talk to a counselor is a great option. Counselors can discuss the concerns and symptoms you are having and help you develop strategies to increase your mood. Some people are assisted by the use of medications specifically used to treat depressive symptoms. The Student Health Center has a psychiatrist that can assist you in finding the right medication to assist you in feeling better. All of your options can be discussed with your counselor.
Helping a Friend
If you have a friend who appears depressed there are a few things you can do. First, know when it’s too much for you to handle on your own. It can be overwhelming to help a friend who is really struggling. You can support them in helping them get professional help. While they are in therapy you can still encourage and support them. In fact, they may need your ongoing caring attitude to help them through. In addition, you can invite them to do activities you both enjoy. Encourage them to work out with you or go for a walk. Keep an open mind and practice your best listening skills while remaining positive!
Be careful not to blame the person for how they feel or to tell them things such as “just get over it." While it may seem like tough love is the best approach it often backfires.
Helpful Web Resources
Anxiety Disorders are the most common of any mental illness in the United States. They effect roughly 20% of the population according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Concerns with anxiety are highly treatable but only approximately one third of those who have anxiety concerns seek treatment according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety and depression are often seen together. Those who struggle with anxiety often struggle with depression and vice versa.
Common Experiences Associated with Anxiety
Anxiety can come in different forms. Some have general anxiety which can come about for seemingly no reason. Others might struggle from panic attacks. Often college students have to manage test anxiety or anxiety related to giving presentations. Common experiences associated with anxiety disorders can include feeling excessively frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most other people would not experience these same feelings. When they are not treated, anxiety disorders can be severely impairing and can negatively affect a person’s personal relationships or ability to work or study. In the most severe cases, anxiety disorders can make even regular and daily activities such as shopping, cooking or going outside incredibly difficult. Anxiety disorders can further cause low self-esteem, lead to substance abuse, and isolation from one’s friends and family.
Things You Can Do
There are many ways to manage anxiety. One very effective way is to regularly practice relaxation exercises. By practicing deep breathing as a form of relaxation you can initiate the relaxation response in your body. The more you practice this the quicker your body will relax in times that you need it. Other helpful ways to manage anxiety are to practice good time management skills and create a predictable schedule for yourself. Make sure to get regular exercise and build in time to decompress and relax. For great deep breathing exercises you can go to Mindfulness-Based Stress Relief: Relax and Focus or Mind/Body Spa.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling to manage anxiety then seeking counseling could prove very helpful. There are different therapies that target anxiety specifically. One popular method is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which helps you explore the relationship between thoughts, actions, and mood. In addition, a therapist can assist you in relaxation and mindfulness exercises which can help one manage their anxiety.
Helping a Friend
A friend who is struggling with anxiety can always use positive supports. Remember to remain calm even when they are getting worked up. Encourage them to seek counseling if they are struggling to manage their anxiety. It can also be helpful to ask them what is helpful when you notice that they are beginning to become overly anxious. Be patient and accepting of how they handle anxiety. Each person handles it differently and your support can help a friend better manage their anxiety.
Helpful Web Resources
Relationships come in many forms such as friendships, family relationships, and dating relationships. Any relationship, in which we can truly be ourselves, can have a positive impact on our overall health and wellness. Assertive communication is key to any positive relationship. To communicate assertively means openly expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs while respecting the boundaries of self and others. Relying on mind-reading to get one’s needs met is almost always a recipe for conflict.
Signs of a Healthy Relationship
There are many things that create a healthy relationship. In healthy relationships both partners treat each other with kindness and respect. Even in times of conflict or disagreement there should still be an undercurrent of respect. Both parties in a relationship should have their own identities apart from the relationship. Each person should have their own things they do and are involved in that doesn't always include the other person. Trust plays a huge part in any type of relationship. This means that each person should feel free to openly ask questions about each other and the relationship. Any relationship will have its ups and downs but overall each person should be able to have fun, laugh, and play together. Each person should be genuinely interested in the lives of the other. This includes both the other person’s successes and struggles. Each individual should be responsible for their own level of happiness. This means that one should find happiness from within and not rely solely on the other person as their only source of happiness. The idea that someone “makes me happy” or “makes me sad” is a myth. Only you can be the source of your own emotions.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
It is important to be aware of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. In an unhealthy relationship one person may try and control or manipulate the other. There is a disregard for the other person’s boundaries. There may be no room for personal identities and interests outside of the relationship. Spending time with others outside of the relationship may be discouraged. There may be criticism of the other person’s personal attributes. One person, or multiple, may blame others in the relationship for their own unhappiness. Someone in an unhealthy relationship might be ignored when speaking. Any form of harm, such as hitting, grabbing, and pushing, is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
If you are in an unhealthy relationship there are many things that you can do. Feel free to come and talk to a counselor individually to help you navigate the many aspects of your relationship. Couple’s counseling can also be helpful in exploring communication problems in a romantic relationship. In addition, you can utilize Health Services for STD testing, reproductive health, and more. Be informed! You can increase your “relationship intelligence” by utilizing the resources listed below, attending campus workshops, and talking with others about their experiences.
Helping a Friend
If a friend gets involved in a dating relationship, it can often feel like they have ‘fallen off the face of the earth’ as they spend more and more time with their significant other. This is somewhat normal during the initial stages of a relationship. However, if you notice your friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend is controlling, critical, and discouraging your friend from spending time with you or others, your friend may be involved in an unhealthy relationship. Let him/her know you are there to listen. If your friend is an enrolled UNO student or employee, refer them to the CAPS for help, or you may contact CAPS for community resources. Supporting a friend in an unhealthy relationship can be stressful, so remember to seek support for yourself too.
Helpful Web Resources
Your safety is our number one priority. We are here to help. For on-campus emergencies: call 402.554.2911 or 911. To speak with a confidential advisor: Call 402.554.2409.Facts
The term "intimate partner violence" describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence is defined by Nebraska Law as abuse that occurs between spouses, persons living as spouses, or adult members of the same household. It is attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon, or placing another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats which include any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen between couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Each person may experiences Intimate Partner Violence and/or Sexual Assault differently. The following experiences may not be the same for everyone. Meaning that an individual may not experience everything listed, or may experience things that are not listed.
Some common experiences of Intimate Partner Violence include one’s partner checking the others cell phone or email without permission. They may constantly put their partner down. They may show extreme jealousy or insecurity. One may see their partner have an explosive temper, mood swings, and make false accusations. Other common experiences include one partner isolating the other from family or friends, being very possessive, and telling the other person what to do. The violent partner may be physically harmful or pressure the other partner to have sex. Intimate Partner Violence is centered around one person’s power over, and control of, the other partner. These signs can begin at any point in the relationship.
In terms of sexual assault, each person’s reaction to the assault is different. Some common reactions are discussed below. A more comprehensive list can be found here.
A person who has experienced sexual assault may have a change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and physical injuries. They may experience a wide array of emotions from anger and hostility to sadness and anxiety. They may have a sense of shock and feelings of hopelessness. A common experience is that of guilt and shame. It is always important to know that the person who experienced a sexual assault is NEVER at fault for it. They may experience flashbacks and have thoughts such as “am I damaged goods”? “What if I hadn't done…”? They may isolate themselves and have a fear of being in crowds. There could be difficulty with intimacy as well as getting day to day tasks accomplished. Again, each individual will have a different response and reaction.
Things You Can Do
If you think you are in a relationship that is unhealthy you can seek the support of friends and/or family. CAPS is always available to students, faculty, and staff who are targets of intimate partner violence. In addition, both Heartland Family Service and the Women’s Center for Advancement has advocates that are there to help! The WCA’s 24 hour crisis hotline is 402.345.7273. Heartland Family Service’s 24 hour crisis hotline is 1.800.523.3666. If you have suffered any physical injuries you can always seek medical help from a doctor or hospital.
A sexual assault is a traumatic event. Below is a list of things that can be done after a sexual assault.
IMMEDIATELY following a sexual assault:
Go to a safe place. Consider going to your room, a friend’s room, or anywhere you will feel safe.
- Do not clean up. It may be difficult to keep from cleaning yourself up, but if you do you may destroy evidence that could be useful should you decide to report the assault to the police. Don't wash up, douche, change clothes, eat, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom or brush your hair. Even if you are not sure about reporting the assault, it makes sense to preserve the option of reporting until you make a final decision.
- Call someone you trust. No matter how late it is, you should not be alone. Consider calling a close friend or family member. Also consider calling a UNO staff member, such as Campus Security or one of the Residence Life staff members. You can call the Women’s Center for Advancement or Heartland Family Service, whose staff can be especially helpful in advocating for you and providing support. The WCA’s 24 hour crisis hotline is 402.345.7273. Heartland Family Service’s 24 hour crisis hotline is 1.800.523.3666.
WITHIN 24 HOURS of a sexual assault
Secure medical consultation. Go to Methodist Hospital, where a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner can complete an exam that will secure evidence, should you choose to press chargers. Medical staff can evaluate any injuries you may have suffered, screen for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, and prescribe “morning after” emergency contraception (such contraception can actually be used as long as 72 hours after intercourse).
- Strongly consider securing your medical consultation from a specially trained Sexual Assault Forensic Examination nurse (often referred to as a “SANE nurse”). SANE nurses have the expertise to collect forensic evidence of the assault for possible prosecution of the assailant. The gathering of this evidence does not commit you to pursuing legal action against the assailant, but does preserve your options.
- The closest Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is at Methodist Hospital on 84th and Dodge Street.
- Consult with someone who can help you review your options for reporting the assault. Your best community resource in this regard is Women’s Center for Advancement/Heartland Family Service. They have advocates who are available to support survivors in many ways including: accompanying survivors to the hospital medical exams; helping survivors decide whether or not to report the assault to the local police; accompanying survivors to the police station; and general legal and emotional support and advocacy. You may also choose to go directly to the Omaha Police Department.
IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING a sexual assault
Consult with a counselor. Many survivors of sexual assault experience troubling emotions in the wake of the assault. Sometimes these emotions occur immediately after the assault and sometimes they occur later. It isn't uncommon for survivors to experience shock, anger, helplessness, self-blame, shame, problems with eating or sleeping, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, irritability, denial and fear. A professional counselor can help you sort through and understand your feelings and can help you work to get your life back on track.
- Report to UNO Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Weil.
- Review the Title IX Webpage for next steps, including a reporting form that has an option for anonymity.
- Seeking out counseling services can be beneficial to deal with the emotional aspects of intimate partner violence and/or sexual assault. Counseling is confidential and can help provide you with the support you may need.
Helping a Friend
Helping a friend who is the target of intimate partner violence can be difficult but there are things you can do. If you are concerned that a friend may be in an unhealthy relationship do not be afraid to reach out to them. Even if they do not want help right away they may be more willing to reach out to you in the future. Abuse is NEVER their fault! Keep the focus on your friend and not the abuser. It is important that your friend know that you are concerned about them. Do not contact the abuser. This could end up making things worse for your friend. It is important that you be there and supportive of your friend. For more detailed information please visit Love is Respect.org.
Assisting a friend who has been sexually assaulted is incredibly difficult. You might have your own intense feelings about the situation. It is important that you have support as well! Feel free to seek out the assistance of CAPS as you strive to assist your friend. When helping a friend who has been sexually assaulted it important that you take on the role of a friend and not an investigator. It is important to be there and listen. Believe what they tell you and be sure they know you believe them. Remember that sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the person who was assaulted. Let them talk about it and decide what they want to do. Some do not want to report it, or at least not in the moment, and it is important you let them make that decision. Reach out for support as you need it!
Helpful Web Resources
Suicide is a very serious topic that it is important to be educated on. It is always important to remember that while this information can be troubling, there is always hope! According to 2005 data 32,637 deaths were completed suicides. This accounted for 1.3% of all deaths that year. Males are more likely to complete suicide than females. This is often because males use more impulsive and permanent methods. Suicide is the third highest cause of death for ages 15-24. This data was obtained from the National Data for Vital Statistics in 2005. It is important to know that there are many treatment options that can assist someone who is thinking of suicide. Seeking immediate help can greatly reduce the risk of suicide.
Common Experiences Associated with Suicidal Thoughts
Often, those who are thinking of suicide are feeling hopeless, helpless, purposeless, angry, depressed, anxious, trapped, extreme guilt, loneliness, mood changes, and a sense of recklessness. There are often thoughts of wanting to die which could lead to plans of how one might kill themselves. Many describe noticeable behavior changes which could include recklessness, substance abuse, rage, isolation from others and activities that in the past that were once viewed as enjoyable.
Things You Can Do
If you are having thoughts of suicide seek help immediately! There is always someone willing to help and/or talk. See below for treatment options or places you can turn to.
The most important thing is the safety of the person who is thinking of suicide. If you, or someone you know, cannot keep themselves safe there are multiple options in the community including going to any hospital emergency room, calling 911, or going to Lasting Hope Recovery Center at 415 S. 25th Avenue, Omaha NE, 68131
Another helpful resource is the Boys Town hotline which is 1-800-448-3000. You may also text the word "VOICE" to 20121 to text with a counselor.
Ultimately, it is best to get professional help as soon as possible! A professional can help you, or a friend, to determine the cause of their thoughts and feelings and assist in finding positive solutions! There is always hope!
Helping a Friend
Helping a friend who is thinking of suicide can be difficult but there are ways you can help. First, be a good listener! Show interest and do not judge their feelings, actions or thoughts. Try not to give advice focused on solutions to the problems they discuss. Focus on being present physically and emotionally. Get help from family, police, or a health care professional if your friends states they are having serious thoughts of suicide. Make sure to stay with your friend who is actively thinking of suicide until help arrives. If the situation becomes dangerous and you feel unsafe, get to a safe place and call 911.
Do not make any promises that you will keep you from keeping them safe. For example, don't promise that you won't tell anyone what they tell you. You can simply say there are some things you can't keep secret. Be aware of any warning signs your friend might give. You can review those signs in the “common experiences associated with suicidal thoughts” section.
If you are afraid that your friend is thinking of suicide then ask! Asking a simple question, although uncomfortable, may help save their life. Be direct when asking the question. For example, “You sound really upset and I am very concerned about you. Are you thinking about killing yourself”? If they say “yes” then seek the help of a professional immediately. As a friend, you might seek your own counseling. It can be emotionally difficult to help someone who is thinking of suicide. Take care of yourself as well!
Helpful Web Resources
Many people who explore their sexual orientation and/or gender identity find it to be a positive and rewarding experience in the end. However, the process of exploring ones sexual identity, and/or gender identity, can be a confusing and stressful time. In 2011, the Williams Institute reported that there were nearly 9 million LGBT adults in the United States. College is often a time of self-discovery and coming out as LGBTQIA as a college student often brings with it many questions and complications. According to the State of Higher Education Report (2010), of those surveyed 83% of LGBT College students were likely to be harassed based on their sexual identity and 61% were targets of derogatory remarks. It is important to know that exploring ones sexual orientation and gender identity is a normal process. While it has its challenges it can ultimately be rewarding.
Common Experiences Associated with Exploring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The process of discovering your sexuality and gender identity can be an exciting and rewarding time in life, but it can also be a scary process to go through and may be accompanied with symptoms of depression and anxiety. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that LGBT youth ages 14-21 were significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their heterosexual peers, and were 20-40% more likely to attempt suicide. It is important to be aware of your feelings as you take this journey and seek help and guidance when needed.
Things You Can Do
One of the most important things you can do is to remember that you are not alone. At any given moment there are thousands, if not millions, of other college students across the nation who are on a journey of self-discovery in terms of sexual orientation or gender identity. Reaching out to a few trusted individuals is another important step. Getting support from those you trust can be crucial to not feeling alone and may help with the signs of depression. Take some time to explore some resources on the topic through various websites or campus organizations like Campus Pride, The Trevor Project, or contact the Gender and Sexual Orientation Agency (GSO) on campus. In addition, CAPS offers a free support group for LGBTQ college students. Call 402.554.2409 to get more information on when and where the group is meeting.
If your journey of self-discovery becomes too confusing or too hard to handle alone, then coming to talk to a counselor is a great option. Counselors can discuss your concerns and symptoms you are experiencing and help you develop strategies to increase your mood. In addition, counseling can help you along on your journey while you manage the struggles that are sometimes associated with this process.
Helping a Friend
If a friend comes to you for help and guidance in their process of exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity you should feel proud that they trust you enough to include you in their journey. It is important to remain accepting and supportive as this can be a difficult time for your friend. Confidentiality should be one of your highest priorities as to make sure that your friend can trust you not to tell others of the process they are going through. Sometimes friends just need someone to listen and not necessarily give advice. Active listening can be one of the most supportive things you can do for a friend. If it seems like they are really struggling in their journey then recommend that they come talk to a counselor. You can also reach out to local groups who help support those who are supporting their friends and loved ones. One local group can be found here: PFLAG Omaha.
Helpful Web Resources
There are various types of eating disorders which include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and other eating disorders that are not specified. According to a 2011 research study cited on nationaleatingdisorders.com, 20 million women and 10 million men who struggle with a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life. A USA Today article cited the National Institute of Mental Health statistic that 25% of college students struggle with an eating disorder (2012). Eating disorders can have both mental and physical symptoms which can lead to long term health concerns if not addressed.
Common Experiences Associated with Eating Disorders
Each disorder has its own unique experiences associated with it. The experiences listed below are not all inclusive. For more information please see the Helpful Web Resources below.
Those dealing with Anorexia are often preoccupied with their weight. They may excessively exercise, weigh themselves often, withhold food, binge eat but then purge by exercise or vomiting. Over time they may appear very thin, have brittle hair and nails, and feelings of sluggishness.
Those struggling with Bulimia have similar experiences as those associated with Anorexia. Those with bulimia often eat large amounts of food which is followed by strategies to compensate for what they ate. This could be inappropriately using diuretics, vomiting, or excessive exercise. The main difference between Bulimia and Anorexia is that those who are Bulimic often maintain a healthy weight.
With Binge Eating Disorder people will eat large amounts of food but do not follow it up with purging. This can lead to obesity and other health related problems. Each of these disorders are often associated with poor self-esteem and body image.
Things You Can Do
If you are struggling with one of these disorders it is very important to seek professional help. Seeking the assistance of medical and mental health professionals can ensure that there are no long lasting effects from this struggle. They can help you safely maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen while exploring your thoughts and feelings associated with these behaviors. There is often a sense of shame or guilt with these disorders. It is important to know that professionals who are trained to assist you will pass no judgment. Seeking the help of CAPS staff will assist you in finding the best professionals to assist you.
Working with those who are struggling with an eating disorder is often a “team” approach. This means that therapists, doctors, and nutritionists often work with individuals as a team to provide the best support for each aspect the person is struggling with. Treatment can often be done in an outpatient setting but some severe instances require a higher level of care. The first step is talking to a doctor or mental health professional so they can assist you in finding what approach is best for you.
Helping a Friend
Remember that when someone has an eating disorder they are often over focused on their weight and body image. Avoid making comments about their weight. Focus more on your concern for them and their health. Although simple solutions such as “just eat more” or “don't exercise as much” may seem like easy solutions but often they are not. Instead, try and guide your friend to talk to a professional and seek help. Being supportive involves a lot of listening and understanding. Avoid comments that may make them feel guilty or shameful.
Helpful Web Resources
Self-care is not selfish! Many view taking time or doing things for themselves as selfish when really it is necessary to keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy. In contrast, self-indulgence is obtaining or consuming things that give immediate gratification at a cost to our overall well-being, self-care is the practice of nurturing our internal and external needs for overall wellness and happiness. Self-care means taking the responsibility and the time to tend to one’s own health. It is care provided for you, by you. Tending to all of the dimensions of wellness is a great way to practice self-care.
Have you ever found yourself focusing on others’ needs and neglecting your own? While it’s nice to give and accept support, your self-care can be done by no one but you. Tuning in to your needs on a daily basis helps achieve balance. Consider how you can nurture yourself in each of the dimensions of wellness:
- Physical Wellness activities include exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, wearing a seat belt, and brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
- Social Wellness activities include having a network of close friends and family and spending time with them, communicating with a variety of people, and showing compassion or empathy when possible.
- Emotional Wellness activities include accepting responsibility for your actions, having the ability to laugh at life and yourself, and learning from your mistakes. Taking the time to participate in counseling is also a great way to tend to your emotional wellness.
- Environmental Wellness includes tending to one’s personal space and feeling safe in one’s surroundings. Environment Wellness also includes discarding garbage regularly, conserving energy such as fuel and electricity, and purchasing recycled items when possible.
- Spiritual Wellness includes prayer, meditation, or personal reflection as well as understanding other's beliefs and values. There should be a direct relationship between your personal values and your daily actions.
- Financial Wellness activities include paying your bills on time, having a handle on financial status, and having available credit for unexpected life occurrences.
- Intellectual Wellness includes having an interest in learning new things, participating in creative and stimulating activities, and engaging in intellectual discussions.
- Occupational Wellness includes being happy in your career path, balancing work and leisure time, and having a job or activity that allows you to contribute your talents.
If you would like help addressing self-care and time management, call CAPS for an appointment at 402.554.2409.
Helpful Web Resources