CAPS: Helping Students Cope with COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak can be overwhelming at times. But even with social distancing restrictions, no one has to cope with it alone. The Southern Utah University Counseling and Psychological Services program is still able and eager to help T-Birds.

While physical hardships are impacting so many of us, a much larger number of people are suffering due to new acts of racism, ageism, and xenophobia,” stated CAPS Outreach Coordinator Merrill Jones on the program homepage.

To address the greater amount of students who need help, CAPS has created discussion groups. These groups are held via Zoom and address topics such as managing COVID-19 anxiety, transitioning to online learning, self-care during times of isolation and ideas for staying healthy. 

Discussion groups are free to students and are held at various times to accommodate many different schedules. The program is also working hard on a COVID-19 Survival Guide that will be published on their website within a couple of days.

In order to comply with social distancing standards, CAPS has switched over to online appointments. The unexpected transition has been challenging for them, as it is with many other organizations. 

Because of this, some of the regular groups that discuss topics such as anxiety and self compassion are currently unavailable. However, they are still doing as much as possible to ensure the safety and confidentiality of students.

“This is very complex in our setting but we are doing it. Some services we can no longer provide, but our main services are still going,” shared Center Director Curtis Hill. “Just being able to maintain some continuity has been a major undertaking and our primary success so far.” 

The CAPS staff is continuously consulting with SUU staff and faculty to address the developmental and mental health needs of students. Another way these needs can be met is through connecting with peers from the SUU Wellness Center. 

These peers are psychology seniors trained with tools to help support students in many ways just short of actual counseling. For students that are feeling disconnected or otherwise struggling, the peers are here to help.

Mental health and physical health are both crucial in this crisis and working together will be vital to getting through it. Hill gave additional advice on how to help ourselves as well as those around us.

“Adjustment periods are hard. Significant disruptions to people’s lives affect people differently.  Practice empathy and try to not put yourself or others at risk. And please reach out to others if you need support; it is normal and healthy to need support at times like this.”

Visit their website for more information about the Counseling and Psychological services available.


Story by Larissa Beatty
Photos Courtesy of