New CAPS resources focus on student empowerment

Callie Curley
November 27, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From facing your fears to tracking your mood, the first steps toward understanding and managing your own wellness are now more readily available to students than ever before.  

In an effort to support students in their pursuit of overall wellness and a healthy lifestyle, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has launched several new resources to help students access the services they want and need.

In addition to both text and call lines and web-based assessments, CAPS has revamped its in-person “Life Hacks” events in an effort to better serve students.

“We want to provide resources that help students feel empowered to help themselves,” said Kate Staley, CAPS assistant director of outreach and community education. “CAPS is always a resource for students in distress, and with these new options for getting help, students have a wider range, from self-help to guided online modules on anxiety and depression and mindfulness, to in-person, one-time clinics on different topics.”


Since WellTrack's soft launch last spring, this web-based service is available to students at any time of day, from any location. WellTrack, which is also available for use by students at Commonwealth Campuses across Pennsylvania, features a wellness assessment that students can take one time or on an as-needed basis, to help them understand the activities associated with when they feel better and worse and to identify patterns in their daily activities and how they are feeling.

“What we are seeing with students who utilize the platform is that they can identify patterns in what contributes to how they are feeling,” said Liz Toepfer, CAPS assistant director of Commonwealth Campuses. “By recognizing those patterns, students then feel empowered to change how they approach certain aspects of their daily lives.”

A virtual reality component in WellTrack simulates some of the more common phobias in modern society. Students can choose to “face their fears” by entering a virtual reality where they are speaking in public with a reactive audience, or even find comfort in the virtual meditation room, which allows students to select their preferred environment for de-stressing.

The tools on the site can be used by students individually, or in conjunction with counseling. Students can use the web version and download the app on iOS or Android by following this link.

Crisis Call and Text Lines

Sometimes, feelings of worry or stress are overwhelming and we each need some extra help.  

For students who are anxious about a test, going through a breakup, or who are thinking of harming themselves or someone else, CAPS now has two crisis lines, both anonymous and available at any time, day or night.  These resources put students in touch with a real person who can help them calm down in the moment, as well as share resources should the student choose to follow-up on their concerns.

“Sometimes, students need help at times when they can’t reach a family member or friend or just want to talk to someone right away for reassurance and help,” Staley said. “By reaching out via the text or call lines, students have a trained and compassionate person on the other side of the phone who can walk them through the process of calming down and identifying resources to help with what worries them.”

While Crisis Text is currently available all campuses, Crisis Line will be fully implemented to all campuses by the end of the upcoming spring semester.

Students in need of these services can call-in to the Penn State Crisis Line at 877-229-6400, and the National Crisis Text Line by texting “LIONS” to 741741.

As always, those in life-threatening situations should call 911.

Life Hacks

For students interested in joining group discussions to better handle stress and anxiety or prepare more efficiently for final exams, Life Hacks sessions may be the perfect fit.

“These sessions are unique because there is still a face-to-face component,” Stephanie Stama, staff psychologist and manager of group workshops, said. “Students are invited to join the conversations and learn skills to deal with their anxieties or stressors.”

Life Hacks sessions take place each week in the Student Health Center. Sessions cover topics ranging from cultivating mindfulness to overcoming anxiety, and students in attendance first learn about the topic before being shown strategies to help them better manage their well-being.

While LifeHacks programs are offered on a weekly basis, students are welcome to attend whatever sessions fit their schedules or needs. There is no long-term or short-term commitment, and students are not required to pre-register with CAPS in order to attend the workshops.

Students at campuses other than University Park should contact their counseling resources office for further information on programs in their campus community.

For a full schedule of Life Hacks for the fall semester at University Park, visit the CAPS website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 23, 2020