Health Center Offers Psychological Support

The rollercoaster of life has its highs and lows. Luckily for UT students, help is near for when the ride gets a little too exciting.

The Health and Counseling Center, located right on campus’ North Brevard Avenue, has a variety of services that prevent illness and help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Battling the common cold is tough, zapping students of energy and strength.

But depression, which is pervasive on college campuses, can bring students down even harder than any cold or flu.

Some early signs of depression might be sadness, unexpected crying, not enjoying regular activities, anxiety and loss of sleep.

There might also be changes in appetite, irritability, decreased motivation and feelings of isolation or helplessness.

The first step to recovery is recognizing these signs and asking for help.

At the UT Health and Counseling Center, Maureen Kapatkin, Family and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, sees many students who turn to her or other colleagues for help.

Some seek assistance over a mild case of the blues or even homesickness.

For others, the problem is more severe, even to the point where suicide might seem like the answer.

Depending on the person, their thought process and background, counseling might be a last resort.

Some feel ashamed that they need help, and others can’t wait to speak with mentors like Kapatkin.

“Counseling almost always significantly helps the problem,” said Kapatkin.

Speaking with a nurse practitioner on a regular basis might not seem like it would be of any importance, but it does give the patient an extra release.

Connie McCullough, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, is another reference for students.

All the counselors are professionally trained.

With preparation, they can hand out pamphlets, books or even tapes to encourage the healing process.

There is also a counselor on-call 24 hours a day for emergency assistance. This is most important for students who are feeling suicidal.

Since suicide is the most serious case of depression, the University of Tampa does not take it lightly.

The psychological state of the patient determines whether medical attention will be mandatory.

If the university feels a student’s life is in danger or other lives are being threatened, the situation will be handled appropriately, with immediate and ongoing attention for the patient until progress is made with their health.

Counselors and nurse practitioners will conduct a short mental health evaluation during a patient’s first appointment, which is designed to help the professionals find out more about where a patient is from and what problems they are having.

Kapatkin often asks questions about family, school and possibly spiritual life.

Many subject matters will be covered to evaluate where the problem might have started and what the solution may be.

With some students, counseling is the answer. However, in more intense cases, medicine might be needed.

Kapatkin said she often recommends both.

Relying completely on medication does not always work. It is important for patients to keep in touch with their counselor to explain how they are feeling and if the medication is working.

Everyone is different and reactions vary.

“There are people all over the world facing problems like depression and anxiety,” Kapatkin said. “It’s very common.”

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