The key word is healing.

2020 will stand out in our collective memory as a series — or perhaps layers — of traumatic experiences. Living through these experiences are thousands of Matadors who, above all, remained committed to pursuing their education and completing their degrees. They certainly aren’t doing it alone. Behind them are thousands of faculty, staff and administrators — and a few key shoulders to lean on for support.

University Counseling Services (UCS) is a shining example of CSUN’s commitment to caring for students year in and year out — with particular care in this unprecedented time in CSUN history. UCS counseling staff, who represent a diverse number of backgrounds, remain committed to assisting students in reaching their academic, career and, most important, life goals. With all of their services provided via telemental health, and new virtual community spaces and individualized workshops this fall and throughout the 2020-21 academic year, UCS is offering myriad opportunities to reach CSUN students.

“We are seeing students with higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and students who are feeling socially isolated, lonely, fearful, grappling with so much uncertainty and losses in their lives,” said Julie Pearce, director of University Counseling Services. “We’re also seeing some students whose return to their home environment is unsafe or traumatic. For example, a home environment with some form of abuse, or ones in which LGBTQIA+ students are not supported or affirmed around their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”

UCS’s greatest strength, the diversity of its staff, is tailored to meet the specific needs and situations of each students. “Our counselors are highly trained mental health professionals who have huge hearts and quickly step forward to care for and support both students and the campus community in times of crises,” said Pearce.

Paulette Theresa-Schechtel, a UCS counselor, has recognized the acute damage felt in the Black community by these traumatic events. She noted that Black residents have made up 30% of the COVID-19 cases nationwide. These outcomes highlight health disparities and historic inequality in health care for Black Americans, including mental health care. “These struggles can impact students’ focus and retention leading to academic success,” said Theresa-Schechdel.

Theresa-Schechtel has felt the difficulties of the pandemic and the fight for social justice deeply, not least in her role as counselor, she said. The stress has been intense.

“My job is to care for broken hearts, emotional and psychological conditions affecting students,” she said. “When I leave my home, the public does not see my credentials; people see another Black person among them. How that translates to others will impact the way I’m treated. Given the nearly daily situations we are all witnessing, that means I must work hard to ready myself for student client contact.”

Some of the new forums created by UCS counseling staff this year have been virtual conversations and Zoom discussion “rooms” — to allow students, faculty and staff to talk about social issues, and support students and employees impacted by them. Many conversations centered around issues in the Black community, but conversations also have included Dreamers, Latinx students and international students.

UCS has created a series of workshops for Matadors seeking to be allies in the movement toward social justice. Each of these new programs will be offered frequently during the fall semester.

“Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde once said that effective change happens when the community is committed to working together,” said Theresa-Schechtel. “Whether it’s the goal of anti-racism for marginalized students who happen to be of African descent, or Latinx and Chicano, Asian, American Indian, Jewish, Muslim, gay, questioning — it doesn’t matter, as long as we recognize that it takes a united journey that will result in the success we desire.”

The following resources are available to the Matador community:

University Counseling Services 

Counseling appointments available virtually: call (818) 677-2366, option 1 to schedule

24/7 Urgent Care/Crisis Services: call (818) 677-2366, option 1 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or (818) 677-2366, option 3 (after business hours)

Wellness Workshops

Groups and Workshops

Psychiatry Services

Mindfulness Break: Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Join via Zoom.

“Let’s Talk:” Outreach program that provides easy access to informal consultations with counselors. Free and available virtually during fall 2020 semester. Consultation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Counselors are available to listen, offer support and provide resources and problem-solving tools. Groups available include Athletics, Pride Center, DREAM Center, EOP, Student Housing, and International and Exchange Student Center.

Peer Education Programs

Free Mental Health Screenings: Determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a behavioral health professional. Completely anonymous, confidential and results are immediate, along with recommendations and resources.

UCS list of mental health resources and services during COVID-19, including crisis lines, mental health apps, local hospitals, and community specific resources

Self-Help Library on a range of topics

Videos, Blogs and Presentations

Mindfulness Exercises (videos)

YOU@CSUN comprehensive online well-being platform, intended to enhance student mental health, physical wellness and academic success:

Mitchell Family Clinic

Services include adult, child, family and group counseling; play therapy and sandplay therapy; art therapy; school-based counseling services; assessment and treatment of at-risk students. Call (818) 677-2568 or email to schedule an appointment.

​Individual counseling sessions available for currently enrolled CSUN students: $15 for individual, $20 for couples counseling. Call (818) 677-2568 to schedule.

Strength United Crisis Line

Strength United is a chartered center operated through California State University, Northridge’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education that assists those affected by violence, sexual abuse and trauma.
24/7 hotline: fully staffed and available to assist during crises, including those related to COVID-19 pandemic. San Fernando Valley: (818) 886-0453  or Santa Clarita Valley: (661) 253-0258

Klotz Student Health Center

Wellness Coaching: free one-on-one session with a certified wellness and health coach. Helps students attain holistic health and well-being. Set realistic and attainable wellness goals, develop personal wellness plans, discuss ways to overcome barriers, gain renewed focus on academics. Initial appointment is 60 minutes; follow-up appointments are 30 minutes.

Matadors4Wellness Peer Health Educators: CSUN students who are committed to health and wellness of campus community. Program strives to promote experiences characterized by education that enhance understanding of well-being. Topics for virtual workshops include stress management, sleep hygiene, happiness, time management.

Workshops include: StressLESS Matadors: Managing Stress for Academic Success; Mada”door” to Wellness: The Way to Being Well; and Sleep Smart: An EaZZZy guide to Sleep Hygiene.

Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing

Follow @CSUNHealthandWellbeing on Instagram for weekly resources and services.

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