Campus Community

Mind, Body, Wellness

Written by Tina Potterf & Debbie Black

November 18, 2019

An illustration of mental health awareness.

Image credit: Marissa Leitch

A portion of the fundraising in the Campaign for the Uncommon Good will benefit mental health awareness programs.

Endowment will ensure greater support for campus mental health services

College can be overwhelming, from the cost to credit load to final exams and life post-graduation. For students who are depressed, have anxiety or other mental health challenges, the stress of it all can be difficult to cope with or debilitating.

A recent nationwide survey conducted by the American College Health Association found that three out of five students experienced overwhelming anxiety and two out of five students were too depressed to function. Seattle University students are not exempt from these statistics. In fact, 41 percent of Seattle U students have experienced at least one mental health problem. In large part to a supportive environment, students seek out care from CAPS at a rate that has increased exponentially over the past decade.

CAPS Director Kim Caluza, PsyD, says Seattle U students’ most common mental health concerns have demonstrated a clear growth trend over the last four years and align with those of college students nationwide. They are anxiety, depression and relationship matters. Students often experience anxiety in relation to test-taking or social situations. Mild depression is sometimes related to seasonal affective disorder, particularly if a student is from a sunnier climate. Students’ relationship concerns don’t necessarily pertain to a romantic partner—the problem could be with a parent, sibling, roommate or friend. In some cases it’s the first time a student has experienced either the loss of a family member or a family member’s battle with a life-threatening disease.

“Generally speaking, it’s also around age 18 or 19 that a person may have a first experience with psychosis,” Caluza says.

CAPS is a good place for students to land if they’re experiencing a mild, moderate or first-time symptom presentation. Its professional team of licensed clinicians can help students access the resources they need, get a treatment plan in place and provide time-limited individual therapy or group therapy sessions.

“If a student needs ongoing counseling or a higher level of care,” Caluza says, “we try to connect them with a mental health provider off campus.”

CAPS has taken several steps to expedite student access to mental health services. One of these is to contract with the provider of an online interactive self-help tool called Sanvello. Students can download the Sanvello app onto their phones and access its premium services free of charge. These include on-demand, evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness approaches to address symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. The app also offers mood tracking, thought journaling, goal setting, guided meditation and help finding an off-campus therapist.

Private donor support to the Campaign for Seattle University: Mental Health and Wellness Endowment will allow CAPS to hire a fulltime permanent case manager who will be tasked with connecting students to ongoing specialized care when necessary.

The Campaign for Seattle University

While CAPS continues its work to best serve the increased volume of students seeking on-campus mental health care, growing the number of professionals on staff is critical. Through the campaign CAPS hopes to fully fund a $2 million endowment, which will:

•Grow the number of direct service providers, including additional licensed clinicians.
•Fund campus-wide training on how to recognize and proactively support students needing help.
•Increase the number of broad-based support groups and workshops providing coping skills and tools.

For more information or to make a gift to the Mental Health and Wellness Endowment, contact Saoirse Jones at 206-296-6463. Learn more about the services of CAPS at

Writer Debbie Black contributed to this story.


By the Numbers
of students have received mental health services from a therapist.

of students have received information on stress reduction.

of students want to know how to help others in distress.

Source: Seattle University National College Health Assessment, Undergraduate, 2017