In some instances, stress may be associated with clinical or sub-clinical mental health issues. The prevalence of mental health disorders among graduate students has been examined:
A 2008 survey at the University of California-Irvine found 17 percent of graduate students reported having a serious mental disorder, and nearly 30 percent reported having a mental health concern that affected their well-being or academic performance. A 2006 study at Berkeley found that 45 percent of graduate students said they had a mental health issue that affected their well-being or academic performance, and almost 10 percent of respondents said they had considered suicide in the past year. Learn More
For Clemson students, 62 percent of all students reported that in the past 12 months, depression, stress and/or anxiety were factors that affected their individual academic performance (NCHA, 2012).
Stress usually shows up as an emotional or psychological state of tension, but it’s common to also physically “feel” stressed out because of the physiological and hormonal changes caused by stress. Here are some symptoms that indicate a high level of stress:
Changes in sleep patterns
Changes in eating patterns
Increased frequency of headaches
Being more irritable than usual
Recurring 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 frustration and anger3
3Stress - ULifeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL
Signs of depression are listed below:
Persistently sad, anxious, irritable or empty mood
Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
Withdrawal from friends and family
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Fatigue and decreased energy
Significant change in appetite and/or weight
Overreaction to criticisms
Feeling unable to meet expectations
Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt
Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain that do not respond to routine treatment
Substance abuse problems
Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts4
4Depression - ULifeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL
If you believe a person is at immediate risk to harm themselves or others, you must contact emergency services and get help.
More often than not, individuals who are contemplating suicide will give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. All suicide threats, gestures and attempts must be taken seriously. Here are some warning signs that a person may be at risk for suicide:
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
Talking about being a burden to others
Withdrawing or feeling isolated
Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
Having access to self-destructive means
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
Sleeping too little or too much
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
Displaying extreme mood swings
Learn More About Suicide
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
*An after-hours CAPS counselor is available and can be reached by calling the Clemson University Police Department at 864-656-2222 and asking for the CAPS counselor on call.
CAPS Online Mental Health Screening
File a CARE Report
QPR, or “question, persuade, refer,” allows you to help an individual until expert care arrives. Just like in CPR you are not a heart surgeon, in QPR you are not a counselor but you do have the power and skillset to help an individual say safe.
Have you ever worried that asking someone about suicide might cause it to happen? It’s not uncommon for a lot of us to worry about that, and even those of us who know better, still find ourselves feeling uncomfortable about asking directly when confronted with a person who is in crisis. The most commonly held myth regarding suicide is that talking about it will make it happen; however, the opposite is actually true. Bringing up the subject and discussing it is one of the most helpful things you can do, as it helps a person who is thinking about suicide feel understood and demonstrates that you understand the amount of suffering that the person is experiencing (Campus Connect, Syracuse University). The most important thing is to just ask. When you do ask, here are some things to remember:
Go ahead and ask
Ask open-ended questions
Be direct and specific; use words like suicide and killing yourself
Let the person talk and engage in active listening
Make sure you are somewhere private so they can speak freely
Be prepared - make sure you have resources (names and numbers) available to use then and there
In this step, remember to
listen and give them your full attention,
don’t rush to judgment,
make sure to offer and emphasize hope in any form and
when they are finished speaking, then ask: “Will you go with me to get help?”
It is important to note that your willingness to listen can rekindle hope and make the difference.
On Clemson’s campus, you can refer and go with the person to CAPS, located in Refern Health Center.
If the individual discussed a plan with you, do not leave them alone. Again, go with them to CAPS and/or call 911.
For QPR to be effective, remember to also tell the person why you want them to live - I am there for you/on your side. You also want to get others involved, like friends and family, in addition to CAPS.
Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support. Offer hope that alternatives are available, but do not offer glib reassurance. Take action. If possible, remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between an eating disorder and typical weight concerns or dieting. It doesn’t help that people with eating disorders often try to hide their behavior.
Signs of eating disorders are listed below:
Drastic weight change
Worried about body image
Mood changes or irritability
Abnormal or secretive eating disorders
Exercising more than is good for one’s health
Effective treatment for clients who have eating disorders involves a multidisciplinary approach where professionals from many health-related disciplines meet regularly with these clients. The treatment team at Redfern Health Center includes medical doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and counselors who meet weekly to coordinate the care of all clients who present with eating disorders and consent to medical, psychological and/or nutritional treatment. Services include individual and group psychotherapy, nutritional counseling and regular medical evaluations from professionals who have interest and/or expertise in working with eating disorders.
2Eating Disorders - ULifeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL
When should you use the CARE Report, and when should you call 911 and the police for depression/suicidal thoughts?
If you think there could be a threat of harm to self or others, please call 911 immediately.
While students on Clemson’s campus deal with many challenging situations every day, the CARE Network is designed to track those incidents that are deemed “critical” and/or which may indicate unusual or harmful student behavior or trends. This includes but is not limited to
any judicial incident;
the death of a family member, friend, fellow student or other individual in the student’s life;
any unusual, threatening or otherwise troubling behavior by the student directed towards themselves or others;
any wellness issue that is of immediate or serious nature including emergency hospitalizations, life-threatening illnesses, alleged assaults, acute injuries, etc.;
any critical incident or unusual behavior reported by a member of the University community that may be helpful for tracking and follow up (i.e. excessive absence in classes, excessive sleeping or changing habits, etc.);
any unusual, harmful or critical situation that happens to a Clemson University student and is not listed above.
CAPS is located in Redfern Health Center and is the University's only facility for personal counseling, psychological testing, outreach and consultation. An after-hours CAPS counselor is available and can be reached at 864-656-2222.
An ombudsman is an independent, informal, neutral and confidential resource who provides assistance to members of the University community in exploring options to resolve problems, complaints and conflicts when normal processes and procedures have not worked satisfactorily.
ULifelineis an online resource for college mental health.
Although not intended to give a definite diagnosis, screening tools for mental health can increase self-understanding and improve well-being. Below is a link to an anonymous, online screening for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and alcohol use issues.
Go to your instructor’s office hours! They are there to help you; it’s their job, and they will appreciate you putting forth the effort to ensure your own success. They can be some of the best connections you make during your time at Clemson University.