Online Screening to Help Stressed Island University Students

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The University Counseling Center (UCC) wants to know how Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students are feeling through free anonymous and confidential screenings, called Mood Check.

“On any given day on any college campus, we know more than 30 percent of students have enough distress that it interferes with their ability to function,” shared Pamela Greene, Ph.D. and assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “The question becomes: is this feeling a one-day thing or is it starting to evolve into something more serious?”

As part of the Suicide Awareness Focuses on Everyone (SAFE) program, Mood Check is ready to assist stressed students to determine if they, or a loved, one should connect with a mental health professional. A key component of the online screening is to prevent distress from blossoming into anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD or other illnesses through early interventions.

“The purpose of our grant isn’t to teach people how to walk someone ‘off the ledge’ but to raise awareness and provide early intervention opportunities,” explained Greene. “I never want our students to feel so desperate that they see suicide as their only option. I want our students and people across the community to recognize that there are a lot of resources, options and help out there.”

When completing Mood Check, students can select how they are feeling and are then guided through a series of questions regarding that feeling. For example, a student may feel an increased amount of stress and anxiety, which could correspond with generalized anxiety disorder. At the end of the screening, a referral to the Counseling Center is provided, if needed, along with links to tips and research articles. If students find themselves receiving red flags, Mood Check also provided a referral to the UCC where they can learn about other free options and resources.

“We want our students, faculty and staff to know that Mood Check is an option,” said Greene. “Because of the stigma surrounding mental health, we know that only 11 percent of students experiencing mental health difficulties will seek counseling. That’s why Mood Check is such an important tool. With it, they can decide if they really do need to seek counseling.”

In the first year of the SAFE grant, more than 700 Islanders used Mood Check. Through the Garret Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevent grant, the SAFE program aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and raise awareness about the resources available within our campus community. Some of those resources include Mood Check and the At-Risk For Interactive Online Training Program and capitalizing on existing programs such as I-CARE.