Mental Health & Emotional Wellness

Student meets with a counselor

Your time at college can be a positive and rewarding experience. However, it can also be a time of stress and challenge. To make the most of your college experience, CSM Counseling Services is available at all campuses to help you deal with your stresses and challenges. Counseling is confidential and free of charge to all currently enrolled CSM students.

Counseling at CSM is free of charge, confidential, and follows a short-term model, allowing students to access eight sessions per semester. Students have the option of participating in either in-person or virtual sessions.

Our counseling approach focuses on the whole person. We are committed to supporting students' mental health, well-being, personal growth, and academic goals throughout their college journey.

Services include:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Individual personal counseling
  • Support and psychoeducational groups
  • Relationship counseling
  • Faculty and staff consultation
  • Referrals to other resources within the college or in the community

These services are designed to help you become more knowledgeable about the issues with which you may be dealing.

Ethics and Values

Statement of Values

CSM Counseling Services upholds the values of integrity, diversity, confidentiality, and unconditional positive regard. No services will be denied based upon race, gender, age, religion, ethnic background, marital status, sexual orientation, political persuasion, or disability.

Statement of Confidentiality

CSM Counseling Services has a strong commitment to keeping the information you share confidential. Student privacy and participation in counseling services will be treated with the highest regard.


If you feel you are in immediate danger or have a plan to harm yourself or others, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. For 24/7 mental health assistance in a crisis, call or text 988 for support. 

R u ok hawks logo

r u ok, Hawks?

Anonymous Screening Program

r u okay, Hawks? is an anonymous, interactive screening program designed to connect students with counseling and resources to support their mental health. Through an online portal, participants will complete a confidential stress and depression survey and receive a personalized assessment from a CSM counselor.

Start Questionnaire

Contact Us

La Plata Campus

Kellie I. Jamison MSW, LCSW-C
Administration (AD) Building, Room 205F

Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Leonardtown Campus

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C
Building C, Room 207D

Office Hours: 
Monday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Prince Frederick Campus

Kellie I. Jamison MSW, LCSW-C

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C

Counseling Topics

CSM Counseling Services offers counseling for a variety of different topics and can provide resources. Please choose a topic above to learn more about common counseling topics.

Managing anxiety can be challenging, but these types of conditions generally respond well to treatment, and the majority of individuals receiving treatment experience significant relief from their symptoms.

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Overwhelming feelings of panic and fear
  • Uncontrollable obsessive thoughts
  • Painful, intrusive memories; recurring nightmares
  • Nausea, sweating, muscle tension, and other uncomfortable physical reactions

Anxiety is a normal response to a perceived danger or threat to one’s well-being or self-esteem. For college students, fear of inadequacy regarding academic work, problems with a housemate, family or friends, work problems, and related issues can be at the source of serious anxiety. A knot in your stomach or sweaty palms during challenging situations is normal. Anxiety disorders, however, are medical illnesses that differ dramatically from normal feelings to nervousness. The symptoms can make getting through each day very difficult and sometimes agonizing. Anxiety disorders are the most common of emotional disorders, annually affecting more than 20 million Americans.

Types of Anxiety

Panic: Panic can be an overwhelming fear of being in danger, during which the individual may experience many physiological symptoms.

Phobia: A phobia is an uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.

Obsessions and Compulsions: Obsessions are frequently occurring irrational thoughts that cause great anxiety but that cannot be controlled through reasoning. Compulsive behaviors can sometimes take up more than an hour a day, thus becoming excessively disruptive of normal daily routines and social relationships.

Stress: Severe stress may occur in individuals who have survived a severe or terrifying physical or emotional event

General Anxiety: People with general anxiety experience on-going, exaggerated tension that interferes with daily functioning

Dealing with bipolar can affect your ability to study, work, interact with others, or take care of yourself. Bipolar is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 17 and 22 years old. The good news is bipolar CAN be treated! 70 percent or more of people with bipolar respond well to medication that helps reduce the frequency and intensity of the manic episodes. With a combination of professional counseling and medication, most people can return to productive and fulfilling lives.


Bipolar used to be called Manic-Depressive Disorder. It is more than just the everyday ups and downs that most people experience. It is a medical condition in which a person experiences extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression) over an unusually long lasting period of time. Someone with bipolar can experience a variety of mood patterns, including having mostly episodes of mania or mostly episodes of depression.  Another person may cycle rapidly between episodes of mania and depression. It is also possible for someone to be symptom-free for extended periods of time only to return over and over again to long-lasting episodes of mania and depression.

Symptoms of Bipolar

Mania: Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive symptoms can include: excessively “high,” euphoric mood, unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers (such as being able to control world events), racing thoughts or fast speech; spending sprees; substance abuse (particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications); risky sexual behavior; and denial that anything is wrong. This behavior lasts over a period of time.

Depression: Symptoms can include being persistently sad, anxious, irritable, or feeling “empty.” Other symptoms can involve any or most of the following: loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, withdrawal from family and friends, serious trouble sleeping or sleeping way too much, feeling tired or rundown; significant change in appetite and/or weight, anger and rage, overreaction to criticism, difficulty thinking or making decisions, feeling restless or agitated, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, persistent physical symptoms (e.g. headaches, digestive problems, or chronic pain that remains unresponsive to routine medical treatment), substance abuse problems, and recurrent thoughts of suicide. This behavior lasts over a period of time.

It is typically a faculty member or another student in the class who notices a troubled student. It can be challenging to help someone who is under significant stress and not coping well.

When dealing with someone who is in crisis, it is important to be sensitive to how the interaction is going.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I understand what the problem is?
  • Can I meet this person's expectations in this encounter?
  • Do I feel safe?

Be alert to the following:

  1. If this is an emergency, call 911 and then contact campus Public Safety.
  2. If there is no immediate threat to yourself or others, it may be that you will need to contact CSM Counseling Services and speak with the mental health counselor.
  3. If the counselor is not available, contact campus Public Safety.


  • Be aware of your own tolerance limits.
  • Fear can be contagious, monitor your ability to stay calm.
  • Crying generally indicates the person is upset, but not necessarily in crisis.
  • Anxious, tense, fearful students are responsive to reduced stimulation. It's helpful to move a student to a quiet space, remain calm, understanding, and reassuring.
  • Be respectful, but do not pretend to understand a student with confused thoughts who is out of touch with reality. Do not agree or disagree with delusions or hallucination.
  • When dealing with a student who is agitated or frustrated with you, be mindful that you are seen as the person with power. Express empathy, and paraphrase what has been said to be clear that you understand.
  • Remain calm and keep a safe distance from someone who is angry, hostile, or demanding. Talking quietly and calmly yourself is more effective than telling the student to "calm down."
  • Inquire whether the student has a relationship with a therapist in the community or has been to CSM Counseling Services. If not, suggest that he or she contact CSM Counseling Services and give him or her that contact information.
  • Seek CSM Counseling Services consultation when a student expresses, either written or spoken, suicidal thoughts or ideas.

Most people have heard of cutting, but many don’t realize that this type of self-injury is often linked to other emotional/psychological problems. Detecting and intervening with someone who is self-cutting can be difficult since the practice is often done in secret and involves parts of the body that are relatively easy to hide. Some reasons people self-cut are because of overwhelming sadness, anxiety, emotional numbness, a need to feel in control, to relieve stress, to create visible and treatable wounds, to purify one’s body, to reenact a trauma in an attempt to resolve it, and to protect others from one’s own emotional pain. Self-cutting can also be linked to childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, depression, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse problems.

Symptoms of Cutting

  • Constant use of wristbands, large watchbands, or large bracelets
  • Dressing inappropriately for the season of the year
  • Unexplained burns, cuts, bruising, scars, healing or healed wounds, or similar markings on the skin
  • Frequent bandages or other methods of covering wounds, such as with make-up
  • Implausible stories which may explain one, but not all, physical injuries present
  • Odd/unexplainable paraphernalia, such as carrying around razor blades
  • Unwillingness to participate in activities that require less body coverage, such as swimming


Cutting is the act of intentionally inflicting harm on oneself, usually without suicidal intent. It is an unhealthy coping mechanism. While cutting may occur on any part of the body, it is most common on the hands, wrists, stomach, and thighs. Tattoos or body piercing are NOT typically considered self-injurious behavior unless undertaken with the intention of causing harm to oneself.  Not everyone who cuts does so for the same reasons.

Types of Self-Cutting Behavior or “Self-Injurious” Behavior

  • Breaking bones
  • Cutting with a sharp object<
  • Ripping or pulling skin or hair
  • Self-bruising
  • Swallowing toxic substances

Everybody feels down from time to time. But, depression involves those feelings that won’t go away. These feelings become intense and start to affect your daily life. If this goes on for two weeks or longer, it could be depression.

Know that depression can happen to anyone! It affects millions of people, both male and female. It affects all ages, ethnic groups, all backgrounds.

No one knows what the exact causes of depression are, but it is more than a mood—it is a mental illness!  In the research that has been done, depression could be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It has been known to run in families. It can be triggered by a major life change or a major life loss.

Unfortunately, depression can lead to major problems in your life. It can affect physical health that includes every body system and many functions of the brain. It can impact your ability to think and reason, which can then affect personal and other social relationships, school and work, self-esteem, and future plans.

But there is GOOD NEWS! Depression can be treated! Talk with your primary care physician or schedule an appointment with a mental health counselor in your community. All currently enrolled students can contact CSM Counseling Services at 301-934-7577 or email

There’s a BIG difference between “normal” dieting to change one’s eating habits to be more healthy and eating disorders. It is not uncommon for college students to be vulnerable to different types of eating disorders. High school and college experiences, including comparing oneself to other students, stress of academic work, family pressure or issues, relationship difficulties, changes in one’s body and level of comfort, hectic schedules, and many other stressors, can impact a student in one way or another to set the stage to develop an eating disorder.  Not to leave out how our society has become increasingly obsessed with weight and physical appearance. As many as 10% of women and 1% of men suffer from an eating disorder. There are a variety of effective and available treatments, such as counseling and medications as well as treatment centers for eating disorders.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia: This involves a refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight. There is intense fear of weight gain or being “fat.” There is the feeling of being “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss. Menstrual periods stop in girls and post-puberty women. There is extreme concerns with body weight and shape. There are feelings of shame or guilt. In appearance, the person is significantly underweight.

Bulimia: This is when a person eats large quantities of food in short periods of time, often in secret, without regard to feelings of “hunger” or “fullness” and to the point of feeling “out of control” while eating. Following these “binges,” a person will use some form of purging or compensatory behavior to make up for the excessive calories eaten. These forms of purging can be self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, and/or obsessive/compulsive exercise. There is extreme concern with body weight and shape. There are also feelings of shame or guilt. In appearance, the person often looks to be a normal weight for their age and height, so those closest to them may not realize anything is wrong. Also with appearance, the person may have discolored teeth and gums.

Binge Eating: There are frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time, often done in secret, without regard to feelings of “hunger” or “fullness.” There are frequent feelings of being “out of control” during these binges. Large quantities of food are eaten rapidly, without really tasting the food. Usually this type of eating is done alone. Usually there is no purging. There is also extreme concern with body weight and shape even though the person may be gaining weight in the binge eating process.

Grieving is a normal, natural process following any loss. There are many kinds of losses: loss because of a death of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job, loss of a home, loss of one's independence due to aging issues and/or illness--or through an accident. With each of these losses there will be grieving. With a traumatic loss (usually a sudden, unexpected, or violent loss), the grief becomes more complicated.  People often describe it as feeling like “they are going crazy without a road map of how to do it.” Grief and traumatic grief will be experienced differently by each person.

Grieving a loss of a loved one because of death is probably the most common loss. Whether death is anticipated or traumatic, it will shatter the world of the survivor. It’s a loss that doesn’t make sense as the survivor tries to make sense and create meaning from the event. Family members may search for answers and even confront the fact that life is NOT fair. Bad things DO happen to good people and the world doesn’t feel safe.

When the belief about the world and how it functions is shattered, it compounds the tasks of grieving. One’s spiritual belief system may no longer work which becomes another loss experienced by the bereaved.

In the initial days, weeks, and months, the individual may go from periods of numbness to intense emotions in brief time periods. It can take up to two years or more for people to go through the grieving process and adapt to a major loss. When the death is traumatic, the time period may be longer. Over time, the intensity and frequency of the painful periods does diminish.

People may feel worse a year or more after the death. The numbness that helped protect them in the early months is gone and the full pain of the loss is very real. Family and friends may have gone back to their own lives, and not be as supportive as they were.

Over the years, holidays and special family events may increase the feelings of grief. If it was a traumatic death and there is a similar traumatic event experienced, people may be re-traumatized or feel they are reliving their own loss. If there is involvement with lawsuits or the justice system, this can cause upsurges of grief during the entire course of that involvement. Counseling is available if these things occur and coping becomes more difficult.


Types of Physical and Emotional Reactions

  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • Guilt
  • Numbness
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Shock
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the throat or chest

Do you know someone who is gay or lesbian? Bi-sexual or Transgender? Are you questioning your own gender identity or do you already know your own gender identity?

What people in these groups all have in common is that they have been, for the most part, considered outside the mainstream of society.  They have experienced social, religious, economic, political and legal discrimination—much of it based on myths.

Research has found that the people who have the most positive attitudes toward LGBTQQIA people are those who say they know one or more LGBTQQIA people well. Often this is a friend, co-worker, or family member. However, this is not always the case. Educating all people about sexual orientation can go a long way to diminish prejudice. Accurate information about LGBTQQIA people is especially important to those who are discovering and seeking to understand their sexuality.  

Definitions and Types of Gender and Sexual Identity

L stands for Lesbians: Women whose primary emotional and physical attractions and attachments are to other women.

G stands for Gay: Men whose primary emotional and physical attractions and attachments are to other men.

B stands for Bisexuals:  Men and/or women whose primary emotional and physical attractions and attachments are to both women and men.

T stands for Transgender: A broad term that encompasses cross-dressers, intersexed people, transsexuals, and people who live substantial portions of their lives as other than their birth gender. A transgender person manifests a sense of self, the physical characteristics and/or personal expression commonly associated with a sex other than the one they were born with. A transitioning transgender person is one who is modifying their physical characteristics and manner of expression to, in effect, satisfy the standards for membership in another gender.

Q can stand for Queer: Historically this has been a negative term used against people perceived to be LGBT. For older LGBT people, this term may still be offensive. More recently, this term has been reclaimed by some people as a positive term describing anyone who does not identify along traditional gender and sexuality orientations.

Q can stand for Questioning: Refers to people who are uncertain as to their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are often seeking information and support during this time of their identity development.

I stands for Intersex: An individual whose biological sex does not correspond with conventional male or female physical anatomy or genetics. Current research shows that this occurs in approximately 1.7% of the population. This term can also refer to the medical condition.

A stands for Asexual: A person who does not have sexual feelings or desires and who is not interested in sexual activity, either within or outside a relationship.

Heterosexual/Straight:  Women and men whose primary emotional and physical attractions and attachments are to those who are of the opposite sex.

Homophobia: The irrational fear and hatred of same-sex relationships.

Drag Kings and Drag Queens: A person who dresses and acts in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex. A drag king or drag queen can be Gay, Straight, or Transgender.

Types of Common Myths about LGBTQQIA people

Myth #1: People choose to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender.  Parents cause their children to become LGBT.  A wife or husband can cause his/her spouse to become LGBT.

Why a particular sexual orientation develops isn’t exactly known. Current research indicates that it is a very complex matter involving, in large part, biological and genetic factors. Sexual orientation usually develops at an early age.  But two factors are absolutely clear: 1) Being LGBT is not a choice! 2) A person cannot make or cause another person to become lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender! An LGBT person is born who they already are.

Myth #2: If a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender person could just meet the “right one” of the opposite sex, then they could fall in love and become straight/heterosexual.

Many LGBT have dated members of the opposite sex but find it more fulfilling to date members of their own sex. Most LGBT, when they have come to terms with their sexuality, have no desire to try to change their sexual orientation and are honest about it. Those who do seek to change their sexual orientation, usually are reacting to negative societal and familial attitudes and stereotypes towards their sexual orientation. They struggle and agonize while trying to keep up the facade of being “straight” when they know otherwise. There are those, who in their struggle, marry someone of the opposite sex (who doesn’t know their “secret”) in the mistaken belief that they will become “straight” as a result. But the only result typically is disappointment, anger, resentment, and heartbreak for both spouses because the LGBT spouse is still who they are when they entered the marriage.

Myth #3:  Psychological therapies such as “Reparative or Conversion” therapies can change someone’s sexual orientation.

The answer is “No.” Sexual orientation does not require treatment and is not changeable. When an LGBTQQIA person seeks psychological counseling, what needs to happen is assistance with their discernment process if they are questioning and/or the coming out process with strategies to deal with prejudice as well as responses from their families and friends. As for “conversion therapies,” there have been few close examinations of these. Many times these “conversion therapies” are done by individuals and/or organizations who have an ideological perspective condemning LGBT orientations. Much of the time these particular therapies are poorly documented and treatment outcome is not followed up and reported over time. The few of these treatment outcomes which have been followed up, the results have shown that the individuals involved have eventually gone back to their LGBT orientations.  (This information comes from the statement issued by the National Association of Social Workers, as well as articles published in the Boston Globe, New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Myth #4: It’s OK to call LGBT people names like “faggot,” and “dyke” because they are “deviant.”

Sexual and affectional preference that is different from the statistical norm does not equal deviance. If it did, then blue-eyed people and left-handed people—also considered in the statistical minority would be considered “deviant.” To be called names like “faggot,” or “dyke” is considered derogatory and insulting.

Myth #5:  LGBTQQIA people are mentally ill and are not “normal.”

Just as heterosexuals can become mentally ill, so can LGBTQQIA people for all the same reasons! Sexual behavior and orientation exist along a continuum ranging from people who are exclusively attracted to members of the same sex, to people who are equally attracted to members of both sexes, to people who are exclusively attracted to members of the opposite sex.  In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders and declared that homosexuality is as healthy as heterosexuality.

Myth #6:  LGBTQQIA are few in number and “hide out” in careers like the theater, interior design, the fashion industry, cosmetology, and hair styling.

The generally accepted statistic is that approximately 1 in 10 persons is LGBT. (This statistic comes from the University of Buffalo, NY website on their “Counseling Services” webpage.) LGBTQQIA people are found in all walks of life and in all professions. Did you know that the group, Log Cabin Republicans, are a gay interest group within the Republican Party? Then there are the following professional associations: for lawyers—the National LGBT Bar Association, there is the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychologists as well as the National Gay Pilots Association, to name a few.

Myth #7: Gay men like to dress as women; gay men wish they were women and lesbians wish they were men.

Gay men and lesbians, for the most part, dress like their heterosexual counterparts. They don’t  desire to change their sex.

Myth #8:  LGBTQQIA people are a menace to children.

The overwhelming majority of child molestation and sexual abuse cases (both boys and girls under the age of 18) involve heterosexual men--95%. (Statistic is from the University of Buffalo, NY website on their “Counseling Services” webpage.)

Myth #9:  LGBTQQIA people are promiscuous!

In reality, they are neither more nor less sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals. Like heterosexuals, many LGBTQQIA people are involved in monogamous relationships, see themselves as partners and committed to each other for life. They get married like heterosexuals. They start families through adoption and are as committed parents as heterosexuals can be. Some LGBTQQIA people, like some heterosexuals, choose to remain celibate or engage in risky behavior by having multiple partners and unsafe sex

Myth #10: If a friend tells you he or she is a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender, then that friend is coming on to you.

Being an LGBTQQIA involves way more than a person’s sexual activity. When friends ”come out” to you, they are essentially inviting you to know them as whole people. If a person chooses to come out to you, then that person has decided to share part of their identity with you. Such a disclosure only means that this friend trusts you, not that they would like to become sexually involved with you.

Myth #11: If you have friends who are LGBTQQIA, then that must mean you are also one of them.

Being a friend to someone or falling for someone who is LGBTQQIA does not make you any more an LGBTQQIA than being a friend to someone who has a different heritage from your own. Being a friend to or falling for someone who is African-American or Irish-American does not automatically turn you into an African-American or Irish-American person!

Myth #12: AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a gay disease.

AIDS is caused by a virus. Viruses infect all kinds of people, shapes and sizes, regardless of their sexual orientation. AIDS is spread through the exchange of body fluids, such as blood, semen, and breast milk. Some people, whether gay or straight, have contracted AIDS from sharing intravenous needles. While AIDS has been contracted by a large number of gay men, it also has been contracted by heterosexual men and women as well as children and even infants. Associating with gay people does not mean you will get AIDS.

Myth #13: Access to information and education about LGBTQQIAs and their communities will make more people gay.

Absolutely false!

Myth #14: All drag kings and drag queens are gay.

Drag kings and queens can be heterosexual/straight, gay, lesbian, or transgender in orientation.


LGBTQQIA Student Resources

The following information comes from the University of Buffalo, New York Wellness Education Services and used here with permission.

Marijuana or “weed” is a psychoactive drug which is usually smoked/vaped, but can also be mixed with food. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

How does marijuana affect the brain? THC interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and causes a reaction that leads to the “high” feeling that marijuana users experience. Some areas of the brain have multiple cannabinoid receptors while others have few or none. The highest amount of cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory perception, and coordinated movement. These are the areas of the brain most affected by marijuana, both favorably and unfavorably.

Marijuana is not as harmful to my health as tobacco or alcohol, right? Although you cannot overdose on marijuana, there are still many negative effects on health that a person needs to think about, such as:

  • Irritates the lungs causing redness, coughing, mucous and a heightened risk of lung infections
  • Increases heart rate by 20-100% after smoking due to the heart adjusting to the high carbon dioxide levels
  • Causes overeating since studies show a 40% increase in calorie consumption during use
  • Reduces the functioning of the senses, though users report they feel more enhanced

Can marijuana affect my academic performance in college? Yes, regular, sustained use influences academic performance in the following ways:

  • Impairs short-term memory
  • Diminishes attention to detail and ability to focus on goals
  • Causes concentration problems
  • Processing information accurately is also reduced with heavier use

Can you get addicted to marijuana? Long-term, heavy use can lead to addiction, which is defined as drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects on functioning within family, school, work, and recreational activities.

What is synthetic marijuana? This is marijuana, where, in addition to the THC ingredient, synthetics are added. Synthetic marijuana is very dangerous (as well as illegal) and has resulted in very risky behavior and even death among some of its users.

Ending a relationship, be it a marriage or not, is one of the most avoided and feared human experiences. As a culture, we have no clear-cut rituals for ending relationships or saying good-bye to someone whom we have valued. We often find ourselves unprepared for the variety of feelings we experience in the process. Remember: It IS a grieving process! You are experiencing the loss of a love. The good news is that, in time, and if need be, with counseling, you WILL be able to move on!

Types of normal reactions to a breakup

Anger: We are angry and often enraged at our spouse or partner for shaking our world to its core.

Bargaining: We plead with our spouse or partner to give us a chance, saying things like, “Don’t go!” or “I’ll change this and I’ll change that if only you’ll stay!”  Please know there will be an ending to the pain, the fighting, the torment, and the lifelessness of the relationship as the healing process begins. With patience, eventually we will be able to move on and to engage in other relationships.

Denial: We can’t believe that this is happening to us and that the relationship is over.

Disorientation and Confusion: We don’t know who or where we are anymore. Our familiar world has been shaken. We may feel we’ve lost our way.

Fear: We are frightened by the intensity of our feelings. We are concerned that we may never love or be loved again. We wonder if we can even survive this loss.

Guilt: We feel guilty, particularly if we’re the ones who choose to end the relationship. We don’t want to hurt our spouse or partner, yet we don’t want to stay in what has become a lifeless relationship.

Hope: Initially we may fantasize that there will be a reconciliation, that the parting is only temporary, and that he or she will return to us. As we heal and accept reality of the ending, we begin to hope for a newer and better world for ourselves.

Self-blame: We blame ourselves for what went wrong. We replay our relationship over and over, thinking or even saying, “If only I had done this. If only I had done that.” Sadness: We cry, sometimes for what seems an eternity because this is a loss.

Stress is a normal part of life, especially during periods of transition and uncertainty. A certain level of stress is healthy and can be motivating.

Problems develop when stress seems to exceed this level and a person begins feeling overwhelmed—like they’re “drowning." College can be stressful for a variety of reasons: greater academic demands, being on your own in a new environment, changes in family relations, financial responsibilities, changes in your social life, exposure to new people and ideas, struggle with temptations, discomfort with your sexual identity, and preparing for the next step in your life whether it be transferring to a four-year school or getting a new job after graduation. Excessive stress can sneak up on you over time. You may not even notice it until you begin to experience its physical and emotional effects. It is possible to manage and maintain stress at relatively healthy levels. You can do this by learning how your body reacts when it’s stressed out and monitoring yourself for these signs. Figure out which stress-reduction techniques will work best for you and use them whenever you start to notice the negative effects of too much stress. Excessive stress, if not addressed, can be a trigger for emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. Stress causes physiological and hormonal changes in the body. Adequate sleep, diet, and exercise can help to minimize the negative effects of stress.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased frequency of headaches
  • Being more irritable than normal
  • Recurring minor colds and minor illnesses
  • Frequent muscle aches and/or tightness
  • Being more disorganized than usual
  • Increased difficulty in getting things done
  • Greater sense of persistent time pressure
  • Increased levels of frustration and anger

Drinking alcohol is such an accepted part of socializing and relaxing in our society that it’s easy to overlook its potential dangers. The use of other drugs, such as, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, LSD, speed, ecstasy, and prescription medications (such as Percocet and Valium) carries all kinds of risks, too. It’s important to remember that even the “experimental” use of alcohol and drugs can negatively impact a person’s life. Alcohol use can become alcohol abuse which, in turn, can lead to alcohol dependence. Use of prescription medications can be abused which can lead to dependence. People who are substance dependent may build up tolerance, where they need increasing amounts to feel the same effects. They may spend more and more time substance obtaining and using, as well as recovering from their effects. People who are substance-dependent may find themselves repeatedly unable to quit using substances, even once they recognize they have a problem. When they do quit, they can go into/through withdrawal, which—depending on the substance—can be life-threatening and should be treated immediately. Fortunately there are a variety of effective treatments for substance abuse and dependence, such as counseling and/or medications. Because substance abuse can seriously impair judgment, any concern that a user may be thinking about suicide should be taken seriously and help should be sought immediately. 

Symptoms of Substance Abuse

  • Drinking or using other drugs in order to feel more comfortable around people
  • Spending time with people ONLY because they make good companions for alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Being late to, absent from, making mistakes at school and/or work because of drinking or other drug use
  • Negative effects on personal relationships because of drinking or other drug use
  • Taking dangerous risks as a direct result of drinking or other drug use
  • Escaping worries by using alcohol or other drugs
  • Seeing the need to cut down on your drinking or drug use, but continuing use
  • Lying about your drinking or other drug use
  • Disciplinary and/or legal consequences due to drinking or other drug use
  • Feeling guilty about drinking or drug use, but continuing use
  • Drinking or using drugs first thing in the morning
  • Finding you’re consistently not meeting your obligations

Types of Common Rationalizations about Substance Abuse

(Source: National Institute of Health)

  • It improves sexual performance. Psychologically substance abuse actually reduces your sexual performance.
  • Substance abuse still allows a person to be in control. Substance abuse impairs judgment.
  • Substance abuse isn’t all that dangerous. One in three persons, ages 18-24 years, were admitted to emergency rooms for serious injuries because of substance abuse. It’s also associated with homicides, suicides, and drowning. More than 97,000 college students are victims of substance-abuse related sexual assault or date rape every year. Alcohol is the most common “date-rape” drug. Marijuana can promote lung cancer and cancer in other parts of the respiratory system. Over 35% of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms, such as binge drinking, by age 19. Alcohol is a depressant and can make an already depressed person feel even worse.
  • One can quickly “sober up” from substance abuse. With alcohol it can take about three hours to eliminate the alcohol content of two drinks, depending on your weight. Nothing can speed up the sobering process---not even coffee or a cold shower.
  • A woman can drink the same amount as her male friends. Women process alcohol differently. No matter how much he drinks, if a woman drinks the same amount as her boyfriend, she will be more intoxicated and more impaired.
  • There is no point in postponing drinking until a person reaches 21 years of age. Research bears out that the longer a person postpones drinking, the less likely he or she is to experience alcohol-related problems.
  • A person is able to drive while still under the influence of a substance. About one-half of all fatal traffic crashes among 18-24 year olds involve alcohol. Impairment is related to blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Depending on a person’s weight, the BAC could be 0.02% after only one drink. This situation can slow reaction time and make it difficult to concentrate on two things simultaneously. A BAC of 0.03% can significantly impair steering a vehicle. At 0.04%, one’s vision begins to focus on the center of the road rather than street signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians. By 0.05% driving is noticeably erratic.
  • A person can learn to “hold their liquor.”  If a person has to drink increasingly large amounts of alcohol to get a “buzz” or get “high,” he or she is developing tolerance. This increases vulnerability to many serious problems, including alcoholism.
  • A person has to drink to “fit in.” Actually peers don’t drink as much as you might think they do. A recent survey of more than 44,000 college students shows that most students drink little or no alcohol on a weekly basis,
  • Beer is safe because it doesn’t have as much alcohol as hard liquor and it’s not a drug. Actually a 12-ounce bottle of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a standard shot of 80-proof liquor (either straight or in a mixed drink) or 5 ounces of wine.

You may know your friends better than their own parents do. You may be able to tell that something is wrong with one of your friends better than your professors and other college staff can. You can use your insights to help your friends and classmates find help when they are having problems.

There’s no foolproof method of determining that someone is thinking of hurting him- or herself, but the following might indicate that someone could be considering suicide:

  1. A suddenly worsening school performance
  2. A fixation with death or violence
  3. A person who doesn’t seem to have any friends or who suddenly rejects their friends, saying things like, “You just don’t understand me anymore!”
  4. Extreme mood swings or a sudden change in personality
  5. Indications they may be in an abusive relationship
  6. Signs of a possible eating disorder
  7. Difficulty adjusting to gender identity
  8. Depression

Warning signs that someone is probably thinking of committing suicide in the immediate future:

  1. Announcing a plan to kill him- or herself
  2. Talking or writing about suicide
  3. Saying things like:
    • "I wish I were dead.”
    • "I’m going to end it all."
    • "You will be better off without me."
    • "What’s the point of living?”
    • "Soon you won’t have to worry about me.”
    • "Who cares if I’m dead, anyway.”
  4. Staying away from hanging out with friends
  5. Expressing belief that life is meaningless
  6. Giving away prized possessions
  7. Neglecting appearance or hygiene
  8. Obtaining a weapon or prescription medications

As a friend, what can you do?

Take any expressed intention of suicide very seriously.

  1. Talk to your friend and express your concern. Listen in a manner that shows appreciation of the person’s difficulties. This does not mean entering into the despair, rather maintain an attitude of careful optimism. Depressed people are very often wrapped up in their own concerns. Keep advice simple and practical, remembering that it may have to be repeated!  Avoid saying, “You have so much to live for,” or “Think about how that will hurt your family.” Instead, you might say, “Things must really be awful for you to be feeling this way.”  Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. Encourage your friend to talk to you about what he or she is feeling. Let the person know that he or she can be helped and that you will support them in finding help. Do what you can to help them find help! You can not become their counselor, you are their friend!  Remember: Talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts will not push someone to kill themselves! Your friends will often share secrets and feelings with you that they probably will not share with older adults or their parents. However, you may need to be persistent before they are willing to talk.

  2. Never promise to keep someone’s intention to kill themselves a secret! Help is out there! It is a sign of caring to bring your friend to treatment that may alleviate his or her suffering and save your friend's life.

  3. Be especially concerned if your friend tells you that he or she has made a detailed suicide plan or obtained a means of hurting themselves. If your friend announces a plan to commit suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Call for assistance immediately! Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you can, talk to an older adult whom you trust will intervene. If you are on the CSM Campus when this occurs, call 911, then contact Public Safety.

    If your friend posts on Facebook or another social networking site that he/she intends to commit suicide, call for assistance immediately! Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Then, if you can, contact someone whom you trust, e.g. an immediate family member. If you are on the CSM campus, call 911, then contact Public Safety. If need be, contact the counselor at CSM Counseling Services, 301-934-7577.
  4. If your friend or classmate refuses to get help and/or refuses to further discuss the issue with you—or, you don’t know the person well enough to initiate a personal conversation, find an older adult whom you trust who can intervene. This older adult could be a member of your friend’s family, your own family, or a member of the clergy. If you are on the CSM campus, contact CSM Counseling Services at 301-934-7577. If you are unable to get a hold of the CSM counselor, speak to one of your college professors or another college staff member. If this older adult doesn’t take you seriously, immediately find someone else who will! Remember: You can help as their friend, you are not their counselor!
  5. Remember: Change can be slow. Putting out energy and getting no response can be frustrating! Too high a level of frustration can lead to anger and a sudden decision to withdraw. Take care of yourself and seek out another person whom you trust can give you the support you need.

What if you’re the one who is thinking of hurting yourself? Tell someone who can help!

Talk to someone in your immediate family. If you can’t talk to your immediate family, find someone else: a relative, friend, a clergyperson, someone at your campus, or the counselor at CSM Counseling Services, 301-934-7577. Call 911 if your need is immediate or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Almost 75 percent of 18-29 year olds personally know someone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Since many of these veterans will be either starting college for the first time or returning to college since their service in the military, it is important that we all do our part to help in their transition back into civilian life.

If you know a veteran attending CSM or are in class with a veteran, the best thing you can do is to listen if they want to talk. Let them decide how much they want to discuss or emphasize about their military service. Be patient as they get used to civilian life outside of the military.

It is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan report mental health problems or a cognitive condition. These “hidden injuries of war” are not surprising given the trauma of serving in a combat zone. It is important for veterans struggling with emotional health issues to get the support they need as unaddressed problems can lead to serious consequences like substance abuse, suicide, or violence. With the right support and treatment, veterans dealing with mental health issues can still have a smooth transition and a healthy future.

It is important to ensure that returning veterans have access to the professionals and services they need to address the physical and emotional wounds of war. You can become an advocate by looking into joining such groups as the IAVA’s (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) action network. You can also support our troops by participating in The Bob Woodruff ReMIND movement sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Visit Veterans Services to view resources for friends and families of veterans as well as to view resources for veterans themselves.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

You may experience some or all of these symptoms.

  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, faintness, feeling too hot or too cold, etc.
  • Emotional symptoms, such as crying easily, feeling irritable, or getting frustrated too quickly
  • Thinking ability is affected causing a person to “blank out” or have racing thoughts that are difficult to control

Types of things to do to better manage Test Anxiety

  • Prepare well. Be well prepared for the test.
  • Self-Test. Include as much self-testing in your review as possible.
  • Healthy Lifestyle. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise, some personal “down” time, and a reasonable amount of social interaction.
  • Positive Thinking. As you anticipate the exam, think positively, such as, “I can do OK on this exam. I’ve studied and I know my stuff.”
  • Thought Stopping. Engage in “thought stopping” if you find that you are worrying a lot, comparing yourself to your peers, or thinking about what others may say about your performance on this exam.
  • Organization. Before you go to bed on the night before the exam, organize anything that you will need for the exam—pen, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, etc. Double check the time of the exam and the location.
  • Good Night’s Sleep. Set the alarm clock and then get a good night’s sleep before the exam.
  • Be on time. Get to the exam on time—not too late but not too early.
  • Caution. Be cautious about talking to other students about the exam material just before going into the exam, especially if this will make you more anxious.
  • Location. Sit in a location in the exam room where you will be distracted as little as possible.
  • Be calm. As the papers are distributed, calm yourself by taking some slow deep breaths.
  • Read carefully. Make sure to carefully read any instructions on the exam.
  • Focus. As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam, not on what other students are doing or on thinking about past exams or future goals.
  • Calm Yourself. If you feel very anxious in the exam, take a few minutes to calm yourself. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths. Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, “I will be OK. I can do this.” Then direct your focus on the test; associate questions to their corresponding lecture and/or chapter.
  • Do Your Best.  If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to focus and just do your best. It might be enough to get you through with a reasonable grade!
  • Treat Yourself.  When the exam is over, treat yourself. If you don’t have any other commitments, maybe you can take the night off. If you have to study for other exams you may have to postpone a larger break, but a brief break may be the “pick up” that you need.

A critical part of managing stress successfully comes from learning how to manage time effectively. Think about time management as personal management—we manage ourselves rather than managing time. The essence of time management is to organize and execute around priorities. Make a list of all of your activities and classify them as either “urgent” or “not urgent,” and then as either “important” or “not important.”  List the activities where action must be taken as “urgent.” List the activities contributing to your mission, values, or high-priority goals as “important.” Steven Covey, author of First Things First, suggests to construct a four quadrant (2x2) matrix and put the activities into the quadrants as follows:

  1. Quadrant 1 activities are urgent and important—often called problems or crises. Focusing on Quadrant 1 results in it growing bigger and bigger until it dominates your life. Urgency can become “addicting,” since we get a temporary high from solving urgent and important crises. However, effective people spend less time in Quadrant 1 and more time in Quadrant 2.

  2. Quadrant 2 activities are important but not urgent. Working in this Quadrant is the heart of personal time management. Activities in these areas are preparation, prevention, planning, relationship-building, intentional recreation, and values clarification.

  3. Quadrant 3 activities are urgent and not important, and are often misclassified as Quadrant 1 items. Examples include interruptions, certain phone calls/emails/texts/tweets, and any activities that meet others’ priorities/needs but not your own. Time here is often wasted.

  4. Quadrant 4 is the escape Quadrant—activities that are neither urgent nor important, such as busy work, excessive TV, computer games, etc.

Effective time managers stay out of Quadrants 3 and 4 because they are not important, and shrink Quadrant 1 down to size by spending more time in Quadrant 2. Notice that spending more time in Quadrant 2 will allow you to tackle important issues before they become crises!

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