by Nikita Thadani
As I’m sure many of you already know, prioritizing your mental health in graduate school is key. Although it can be easy to prioritize deadlines, responsibilities, and work over your mental health and well-being, if we don’t take care of our minds and bodies first, we won’t be able to complete all of our many tasks & responsibilities at hand. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup (in this case, you are the cup).
At the Mason Grad Insider, we’ve written plenty of blog posts about self-care (here and here), meditation, well-being, and resilience as a graduate student. But what about when that’s not enough? What can we do when we’ve realized that our mental health has declined; when there are issues we’d like to work through; or, simply when we decide we need a little extra support? This is where external mental health resources, such as counseling or group therapy, can come into play.
Mason has a variety of free & reduced fee resources that graduate students can utilize for mental health & counseling, such as:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) – CAPS provides free services for students, including individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatric consultation/medication management, crisis consultation, workshops, and more. To schedule an appointment, call (703) 993-2380.
- CAPS & Graduate Student Life also collaborate on mental health workshops for Graduate Students. You can find more info about these workshops on our Events page.
- CAPS also offers a therapy group specifically for graduate students! You can find more information about this group on their Group Therapy page.
- Student Support and Advocacy Center (SSAC) – SSAC provides free resources & support to students. Some of the resources they offer include Respondent Services for student respondents to Title IX; financial well-being resources and workshops; Patriot Pantry; and Survivor Support for survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence.
- Center for Psychological Services (CPS) – George Mason University’s Center for Psychological Services provides sliding scale fees for a variety of services, including individual, family, group, and couples therapy; consultation; and diagnosis and assessment. CPS’s services are not only for students, but for the general community as well, and serves children, adults, and families. The majority of their services are provided by graduate students under the supervision of qualified, licensed professionals.
- Learning Services – Learning Services provides a variety of free, experience-based learning opportunities for the Mason Community through one-on-one academic coaching, academic success workshops, and online resources.
- Disability Services – Disability Services serves to promote equal access for students with disabilities in curricular and co-curricular activities within the university experience, foster partnerships with students, faculty, and staff to create environments that are accessible, diverse, and inclusive, and empower students to participate fully in the university community.
Local & Community Resources
However, many students find that they would like to receive counseling or mental health services outside of Mason – and finding a counselor or therapist is not easy! Here, I’ve tried to lay out several different ways that you can find therapy which fits your needs.
- Therapist Locators – These links provide different locator tools for finding a therapist based on a variety of different factors including your zip code, insurance provider, issues they specialize in, or type of services you’re seeking:
- Insurance Provider Directory – If you’re seeking services through your insurance plan, most insurances have a directory where you can look through therapy providers who are in your network.
- County Resources – Depending on where you live, your local county government may provide free services for specific issues. For example, Fairfax County Domestic & Sexual Violence Services provides free counseling services & group counseling for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The Fairfax County Community Services Board also provides a variety of free mental health services.
In addition to seeking individual or group therapy, a good option for many is using an app. Here are some apps that provide mental health/therapy services:
- BetterHelp – BetterHelp offers access to licensed mental health professionals via online therapy, including phone and text therapy that matches you to a professional based on your preferences/needs. BetterHelp charges for these services on a weekly basis, and is usually between $60-90/week.
- Talkspace – Talkspace, similarly to BetterHelp, offers access to licensed mental health professionals via online therapy and matches you based on your preferences/needs. Talkspace charges for these services on a monthly basis, averaging $50-60/week.
- Headspace – Headspace is a meditation and sleep app with guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Headspace charges around $6-12/month depending on the plan you choose.
- Calm – The Calm app has meditations and sleep stories meant to reduce stress and anxiety. Calm costs around $15/month.
- MoodMission – MoodMission is a free app meant to help overcome and cope with feelings of depression and anxiety.
Lastly, there are also hotlines you can call if you are in a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate support. All of the hotlines listed below are available 24/7, unless otherwise specified. Some hotlines include:
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- “SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information”
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
- The Trevor Project provides crisis hotline services for LGBTQ+ youth/young adults.
- National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237
- Available Mon-Thurs 9am-9pm and Friday 9am-5pm
- Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline 703-360-7273; TTY 711
- Fairfax County Emergency Mental Health Hotline 703-573-5679, TTY 711
- Fairfax County Suicide Prevention Hotline 703-527-4077 or Text “CONNECT” to 85511
- Fairfax County Child Protective Services: 703-324-7400, TTY 703-222-9452
- Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264
- Available Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
- Veterans Association: 1-800-273-8255
Although figuring out how to access mental health support can be challenging, I hope this guide serves as a helpful tool for you or anyone you know in the search for both national and local mental health resources.