Crisis Plans or “Mad Maps”: Creating Your Own Path Through Mental Health Crisis

In 2015, 18% of UNC students surveyed reported that anxiety had interfered with their school performance in the past year and 13% said depression had affected school in the same period. People with depression and anxiety are at an increased risk for experiencing mental health crisis, which is “any situation in which a person is not able to resolve the situation with the skills and resources available” (source). Crisis can feel like being so overwhelmed that it seems impossible to accomplish daily tasks, being suicidal, or being out-of-touch with reality, in the case of psychosis. Because UNC students experience depression and anxiety, we need to take care of our own and our friends’ mental health so that we all stay healthy, safe, and out of crisis. This post will help you learn about crisis-planning, which is one tool you can use to keep you and your community safe.

What is a Crisis Plan?

A crisis plan is a plan you create that guides you and the people around you to prevent mental health crisis, and respond to crisis effectively if it happens. Think of a crisis plan as a letter from your calm, reflective self to your future, struggling self, and the people who will support you then. Crisis plans are often documents that include information about what triggers you to feel emotional distress, what helps you feel better, and who to reach out to for support.  Your crisis plan uses your wisdom and knowledge of your own needs to guide your future self through hard times and back to stability.

How do I Make a Crisis Plan?

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“Subway Style Mind Map,” by Sharon Brogan. Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Your crisis plan can be as simple or complex as you like, and it can include any information you think would be relevant to your future self and your support people–everything from when your friends should feed your cats to what metal songs you like to cry to.

This is one great crisis plan template you can use.

The Icarus Project, the radical mental health collective, refers to its crisis planning tool, available here, as Mad Maps. The Icarus Project’s mission is to “advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation,” so its Mad Maps guide includes questions like “what does oppression feel like to you?”

Crisis plans can also be in the form of:

  • A psychiatric advanced directive, a legal document you can complete that will inform healthcare professionals how to best support you in the event that you are hospitalized for mental health reasons. Advance directives are intended for healthcare providers to read, so they include information like what medications you should and shouldn’t be given, and which of your support people doctors should communicate with about your care.
  • self-care boxes with actual stuff in them that helps you feel better
  • lists of activities you can do to perk up
  • this website , which is an interactive guide to navigating hard times . Bookmark it for exam week!
  • Safety Plan, a crisis plan app (available for free on Android and Iphone) that keeps your personalized crisis plan in your back pocket.

Why Make A Crisis Plan?

Here are some reasons folks create their own crisis plans, if you’re still not convinced.

  • Crisis planning keeps you in control of what happens to you. Crisis can be a time that other folks step in and take control to make sure you’re safe. By documenting your wishes for when you’re in crisis, you can stay both empowered AND safe during hard times.
  • Crisis planning helps you learn more about yourself. The questions you need to ask yourself in the process of developing a crisis plan prompt you to develop a richer understanding of yourself, your mind, and your unique strengths.
  • Crisis planning is tool to communicate with your  support people. Emailing your crisis plan to your friends and family can start (or continue) a conversation about mental illness–a difficult topic–on your own terms. Crisis planning also demonstrates to those around you that you are taking care of yourself, and so it could help your mom worry less about you. (But no promises on that one!)
  • Crisis planning builds more self-reliant communities. Communities with disproportionately high rates of mental health crisis, like LGBTQ  folks, also have too many negative experiences with mental health professionals and histories of oppression in mental health fields. Crisis plans encourage conversation and collaboration about mental health support within marginalized communities, so that when folks from these communities reach out to professionals, they are also grounded in networks of  friends who understand their struggles and can advocate for them.
  • Finally, a crisis plan prepares you for scary times, and that makes them less scary! Knowing that you are ready for the worst times reminds you of your inner strength. A crisis plan serves as a reminder that you always have a path out of even the darkest spots.

If you’d like help planning for–or navigating–crisis, contact the Counseling Center.  If you’re having trouble keeping up with school work because of mental health issues, contact the office of the Dean of Students for support.  If you are  experiencing mental health crisis after-hours, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Textline at 741741.

Anole Halper is a graduate intern with Student Wellness. They are getting a dual Masters in social work and public health. Their research interests include sexual violence prevention and LGBTQ health equity issues.

How to Make Healthy Choices Concerning Alcohol and Other Drugs

Know the Facts
Know the Facts

Enjoying alcohol responsibly can be a healthy part of your college life. When it comes to alcohol and other drugs, the first step in making healthy choices is to understand what you’re putting into your body, what the substance’s effect on your body will be and the potential risks involved. These guides can help you. The second step is to recognize how you personally react to specific substances in various doses. According to the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, most of the harmful effects of alcohol come from drinking too much. For example, it may be important to know that you should avoid tequila because things get out of control when you start taking shots. The third step is to recognize the situations in which you find it difficult to control yourself or in which you make decisions that you later regret. Do you always end up drinking more than you originally planned when you go out with certain friends? Have you not remembered a single Halloween since you started college except through embarrassing Facebook photos the next day?

The following tips may be helpful if you want to pay more attention to your drinking habits.

Before going out. Let your friends know how much you’re planning to drink before you go out. You can watch out for each other and step in before a friend has had too much. This also requires that you count the number of drinks that you have over the course of an evening, which is always a good thing. You count how many tacos you eat at the food truck, don’t you? Speaking from purely anecdotal evidence, people seem to draw the line at 4 tacos in one sitting.

When you’re out. Don’t accept alcohol or other drugs unless you know what’s in it. Are you really going to drink whatever is in that red cup from that sketchy guy that’s been hitting on you all night? If you don’t know what kind of alcohol, how much alcohol, and what else might be in your drink, politely decline and ask for a Zima. That way they’ll know you’re a person of impeccable taste.

Throughout the night. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. Alcohol causes dehydration because it’s a diuretic and effects the balance of vitamins and minerals in the body. The liver also requires water to process alcohol, leading to further dehydration. Drinking lots of water throughout the night slows down your drinking, gives your body a chance to process the alcohol, and prevents next-day hangovers.

When school gets stressful. Some students may turn to alcohol and other drugs as a way to cope with stress, which may gradually turn into dependence – and that’s a high price to pay for the temporary respite you might gain. If you are concerned about your alcohol or drug habits, check out the Student Wellness website for resources or write us an email to set up a one on one appointment with a trained staff member. We are here to help.

This blog was originally posted on August 31, 2011. It has been edited for clarity. 

Alcoholism. It’s just for after graduation…right?

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“It’s not considered alcoholism until after you graduate,” so the saying goes.  You may have heard these words echoed throughout UNC’s campus before.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for this saying to be heard on any campus in this country.  Someone, somewhere formulated an idea that drinking excessively in college is not only okay, but normal.  However, once you leave college, drinking in abundance no longer becomes okay or normal.  With a degree in hand, you are suddenly an alcoholic.  Here is some word-math to break the saying down:

college student + drinking excessively = not an alcoholic.

college graduate + drinking excessively = you’re an alcoholic.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily believe this math adds up.  I decided to dig into the research and see what real scientists and doctors have to say about this.

For starters, alcoholism has no age limit.  Alcoholism can affect anyone, at any time.  Of course, alcoholism doesn’t just happen out of the blue.  It takes time.  I’m not talking about the few seconds it takes to walk across the stage to grab your diploma and head off into the sunset, I’m talking months to years.  So how, then, does alcoholism start to brew? (Yes, pun was totally intended.) Well, this time period can be characterized by an “almost alcoholic” stage. Let me explain…

There is a common belief in our society that you are either an alcoholic or not.  You have a problem with alcohol, or you don’t.  Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as that.  Two doctors, Doyle & Nowinski, found that there is a spectrum when it comes to drinking behavior.  The spectrum ranges from “Normal Social Drinkers” to “Almost Alcoholics” to “Alcoholics”.

The “Almost Alcoholics” stage is characterized by these traits:

  • You continue drinking the way you always have despite one or more negative consequences. (Like getting an underage drinking ticket, DWI, getting into trouble in the dorms, having a hangover, being sent to the emergency room, etc.)
  • You look forward to drinking. (For example, not drinking all week and anxiously waiting to get drunk on the weekends.)
  • You drink alone and not just socially. (This doesn’t necessarily mean going “ham” by yourself. A lot of different factors come into play here, mainly your reasoning behind drinking alone.)
  • You sometimes drink to control an emotion or physical symptom. (For example, drinking to relieve social shyness, anxiety, stress, boredom, or physical pain.)
  • You and/or your loved ones are suffering as a result of your drinking. (This could include saying or doing things you did not intend to a friend/family member while you were drinking, or a friend having to care for you while you are drunk, etc.)

You may be thinking, what’s the big deal? A lot of college students have some of these qualities associated with being an “almost alcoholic,” and they’re all fine.  I had the exact thoughts.  A lot of people may view it this way too.  It’s because, in the world of college, the “almost alcoholic” stage has been normalized.  It is being replaced with the label: “being a college student.”  No one ever talks about this, because they assume it’s just how young adults behave for a period of time until they graduate college and enter “real life.”  The thing is, real life is always happening.  Whether you are in college or not.

These doctors did not decide to make up the “almost alcoholic” part of the drinking behavior spectrum to crush spirits.  I am pretty sure they are just trying to say, “Hey, sometimes drinking can cause problems, and sometimes if you don’t take a step back to think about these problems, it could turn into a disorder like alcoholism.” And a disorder like alcoholism, is nothing to joke about.

This post is not meant to point fingers, and say, “You are definitely an ‘Almost Alcoholic’, you need to get yourself together.” But it is meant to inform you about the spectrum of drinking behavior, and how part of that spectrum has been normalized in college culture.

If you are looking for more resources on this topic, here are a few:

You can also make an appointment in the BASICS program to talk to an Alcohol and Drug Prevention Specialist about concerns/questions you may have about drinking.  BASICS stands for Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students.  BASICS is completely confidential, and free if you refer yourself.  You can contact basics@unc.edu at any time!

Flashback Friday: How to be social without drinking

This blog post was originally published on September 24, 2015.

Feel like social life revolves around drinking?

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Here are 10 alcohol-free ways to have fun in the Triangle.
(TIP: Always ask about a student discount!)

  1.  Host or attend a game night FREE
  2. Join an intramural sports team FREE
  3. Group outing to the theatre! FREE-$$$
  4. Go ice skating or bowling $$
     
  5. Join a student organization FREE
  6. Check out a local farmer’s market over the weekend FREE
  7. Attend local community events FREE-$$$
  8. Check out student group performances (search category: performance) FREE-$
  9. Learn a new dance/go out dancing (all types of dancing) FREE-$
  10. Watch an outdoor movie or a CUAB movie (seasonal) FREE-$
“Movies Under the Stars” in Downtown Chapel HIll

Or, maybe you want to go to parties and just not drink!

Have you ever been out trying to have some alcohol-free fun, and people won’t stop  bugging you? Here are some ideas of things to say, but they are dependent on your personality type, individual needs, or safety/comfort concerns!

  1. “I’m not drinking tonight, but thank you!”
  2. “I’m good for now, I just had one.”
  3. “I’m taking it easy tonight.”
  4. “I have to wake up early tomorrow/study, etc.”
  5. “I’m driving home tonight.”
  6. “I’m the designated driver tonight.”
  7. “I’m just trying to be a bit healthier right now.”

Not a talker? No worries! There are other ways to ward off peer pressure, again – dependent on your personality type, individual needs, or safety/comfort concerns. For example, some people have suggested holding a drink in their hand and not actually drinking, drinking alcohol-free drinks (like a rum and coke….minus the rum), or attending a party as a sober attendee and playing the games either with water or an alcohol-free drink!

On Trigger Warnings, Intellectual Curiosity, and Self Compassion

Trigger warnings in academia have become a hot topic. The University of Chicago recently released a controversial letter to the Class of 2020 stating that they did not support “so-called ‘trigger warnings’…or the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” The latter, in theory, makes sense – higher education is supposed to challenge you, to make you question your ideas and open your mind to a variety of perspectives, and the ways in which trigger warnings have been exploding in use lately can inhibit that. But for someone who navigates higher education with a specific set of mental health needs, finding a balance between triggers, intellectual curiosity, and self compassion can be a challenge.

On one hand, the traditional use of trigger warnings are a great tool for those in early stages of recovery from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. When a person who has experienced trauma gets triggered, symptoms of distress that result can range from physical (such as headaches, fatigue, and difficulty breathing) to emotional (like fear and dramatic mood swings, among others) to psychosocial (for example, difficulty connecting with others or an inability to manage stress). In these cases, a trigger warning can be crucial. It allows the person who has experienced trauma to prepare themselves for what they are going to experience. It gives them the agency to choose whether or not they feel capable at that moment to deal with something that could have serious consequences on their wellbeing. And more often than not, it allows for someone to come back to this potentially triggering content at a time and in a place in which they feel safe and ready to deal with it.

The other side of the argument makes some important points, too. It notes that trigger warnings seem to have been co-opted by those who think they should not have to experience information that they may disagree with or can be uncomfortable at all. Professors have reported students requesting trigger warnings for everything from famine and religious intolerance to spiders. By using trigger warnings to refer to things that can be uncomfortable, but not necessarily retraumatizing, their true meaning and utility is being put at risk. Yes, talking about topics like religious beliefs, race, and gender can be incredibly uncomfortable sometimes, but facing that level of discomfort and engaging with the topic can be rewarding and beneficial. This level of discomfort can be a catalyst to help us think more critically and can hopefully spark intellectual growth, and college is a place where growth and curiosity should be encouraged and explored.

So for people who have experienced trauma, what are some ways in which they can navigate these classroom experiences in a manner that is useful for them? There’s no cut and dry answer for that, since everyone experiences triggers in different ways, but here are a few tips that anyone could use:

  • Talk to your professors. If you see something on the syllabus and are concerned it might trigger you, ask about it. And if you feel comfortable, talk to that professor about what your needs are, whether it’s just additional time to complete a reading for class or the flexibility to step outside during a class session if need be.
  • Seek help on campus. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a great resource for students who have experienced stress, anxiety, and trauma. The counseling staff can help you make a plan for how to deal with triggers in and out of the classroom, and are available for drop-ins Monday through Friday during normal business hours..
  • Practice grounding techniques. If you find yourself getting triggered in class, grounding can be a great tool to help minimize anxiety and other symptoms. Try breathing in and out slowly, focusing on the sound of your breathing, the chair you’re sitting in, the ground your feet are on, and other physical sensations to bring down your heart rate and relax your body. There are lots of ways to practice grounding in all sorts of situations, so find the one that works best for you!
  • Give yourself a break. Be gentle with yourself and know your limits. If you don’t feel ready to confront a trigger, you don’t have to. A little self compassion and care can go a long way.

Study Drugs: Why the Cons Outweigh the Pros

You’re new at UNC-Chapel Hill or returning from a summer away, but either way you can’t wait to jump into all of the exciting opportunities, classes, clubs, organizations, and events this campus has to offer. The sheer number of opportunities is one of the reasons this school is so great. There is such a range of interests, from clubs focusing on academics and future professions, to music and theater, to Greek life, to politics, to sports, and to so much more. But before you sign up for all 15 activities that have peaked your interest, it’s important to make sure that you have enough time to devote to everything you sign up for. Getting good grades, trying to stay involved on campus, while maintaining a social life can put students at risk of using stimulants, or “study drugs” to help them keep up.

What are people’s reasons for using Study Drugs?

Drugs including Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin are prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). However, a black market for these drugs has grown on college campuses in recent years, including at UNC. Some students are turning to these “study drugs” under the mistaken belief that these drugs will provide a magic fix that will help them stay focused, improve efficiency, and better their grades during periods of high stress.

 

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Photo by Joshua Brown, Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Why does it seem like everyone is doing it?

While it may feel like you constantly hear stories about friends and classmates utilizing these study drugs, the rates of misuse are not as high as they may seem. According to a study conducted by The Coalition to Prevent ADHD Medication Misuse, 75% of students believe that some of their peers have illegally used ADHD prescription stimulant medication. However, a recent survey conducted at the University of Texas found that 87% of students do not use study drugs. While high rates of illegal drug use for academic purposes are untrue, that does not mean that a problem does not exist. In 2011, the National Institute for Drug Abuse found the 9.8% of college students had illegally used Adderall and the rates have continued to increase, especially at universities with competitive academics and admissions processes.

I need to focus, why should I NOT use Study Drugs?

Stimulant medications such as amphetamines (e.g., Adderall and Vyvanse) and methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin) are prescribed to treat ADD and ADHD. People with ADHD have difficulty paying attention and staying focused and are more hyperactive or impulsive than their peers. These stimulants increase dopamine in the brain, which creates calming and focusing effects on individuals with ADHD. People who take these drugs who do not have ADD or ADHD can suffer from dangerous medical side effects, such as restlessness, hallucinations, and irregular heartbeat, among others. Long term misuse of study drugs can even cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep.

Beyond dangerous physical side effects, there may be academic and legal consequences of the misuse of study drugs as well. Misusing study drugs violates UNC’s drug and alcohol policy (link this), as well as the law. Those who are caught misusing study drugs can be subjected to suspension, fines, or even jail time.

While study drugs can improve focus and motivation to study, a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that students who abuse prescription stimulants actually have lower GPAs in high school and college than those who don’t.

What can I do to increase concentration and focus without using study drugs?

  •         Get enough sleep – your brain cannot retain the information you are studying if you are tired. Try to get at least 6-7 hours a night during high stress times and 8 hours on other nights. Power naps are another great way to revitalize your brain. A 20 minute nap boosts alertness and motor learning skills like typing. Naps of 30-60 minutes are good for decision-making skills, memorization, and recall. 60-90 minute naps help to make new connections in your brain and to solve creative problems.
  •         Create a To-Do list and a schedule – this helps you to remember what/how much work you have to do and is a good reminder when you want to take a break or get on Facebook to manage your time efficiently
  •         Take breaks when you need it! While a break may seem counterintuitive when you have an insane amount of work, you will be more productive and more efficient if you let your mind rest every once in awhile. Use these breaks to practice other healthy and self-care behaviors such as going to the gym, eating a well-balanced meal/snack, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or another activity that distracts you from the information you are studying. Breaks, of an hour or even just 5 minutes, will promote good studying and information retention.
  •         Make use of The Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling located in SASB North, Room 2203 (919-966-2143). This office offers services including peer mentoring, The Learning Center, The Writing Center, and Men of Color Engagement.
  •        The Learning Center offers peer tutoring, academic coaching, reading skills help, study groups, test prep resources, skill-building workshops, and other services for students. They also offer support for students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.
  •         If the stress is becoming too much, Counseling and Psychological services (CAPS), is located within Campus Health, and offers counseling services where you can discuss your stress and develop strategies and plans to healthily combat it

So Yes Means Yes, But How Do I Ask?

This blog post was originally published on June 16, 2015.

Photo:
Photo: “Communication” by Joan M. Mass, Flickr Creative Commons.

As many of us know, UNC-Chapel Hill adopted a new affirmative consent standard in August 2014, meaning that, rather than “no means no,” UNC enforces a “yes means yes” standard—where consent is defined as the clearly conveyed, enthusiastic, conscious, non-coerced “yes.” It is the responsibility of person initiating the activity to receive affirmative consent, and being under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not lessen that responsibility. Consent can’t be treated as binding; if your partner and you say that next Friday you plan to have sex, you should still check in with your partner next Friday to make sure they consent. If, next Friday, your partner decides they do not consent, you cannot try to hold them to what they said the week before or make them feel guilty in any way for changing their mind. Also, consent to one activity is not consent to another (so, for example, consent to oral sex is not consent to vaginal sex).

I’ve found in my experience conducting One Act trainings that a lot of students struggle to understand the affirmative consent standard, and have a lot of questions about how it works in practice. Many of us are much more comfortable relying on body language, so enforcing a policy that heavily relies on verbal communication can be daunting.

But how do I ask? Won’t it kill the mood? Isn’t that awkward? Don’t you just know when someone wants to have sex? Is it really necessary to ask permission every step of the way? Does this mean that anytime I don’t explicitly ask permission, they can just regret it and call it rape?

Those are all questions I’ve been asked, on several occasions, by several students. A lot of those questions stem from a “but I just want to have sex” mindset, when the mindset should revolve around what both you and your partner enjoy doing. Affirmative consent isn’t about making things awkward, it’s about making sure your partner really does want to do what you want to do.

So how do you ask? Here are some suggestions:

“I’d really like to do ____, do you want to?”

“How do you feel about trying/doing   ____?”

“Does this feel good to you?”

“Are you interested in doing ___?”

“Are you enjoying this?”

“I like doing _____. What do you like to do?”

The possibilities are endless, so have fun with it! Remember that sex should be an ongoing conversation, where you check in with your partner to make sure they are excited about and are enjoying everything that is happening.

But what about just knowing when someone is consenting to sex? Why this change? Why use an affirmative consent standard, when, for years, relying on body language has been considered acceptable?

It’s simple: there has been new research  that indicates people are likely to freeze up when they feel scared, threatened, or traumatized. While most of us are familiar with flight or fight, there is actually this third chemical reaction in our brains – “freeze.” Because of neurobiology, people may not be able to speak up and say “let’s stop,” so they just disengage and wait for it to be over. Using an affirmative consent standard takes into account what happens in our bodies on a cellular level. Beyond biology, social norms may impact some a person’s ability to speak up. Statements like “maybe later,” “I’m tired,” “not right now,” “let’s just watch a movie,” or even silence are indicators that a person doesn’t actually want to have sex, despite none of those being an explicit “no.”

If you ask someone if they want to have sex with you (or do any other activity) and they say no, you didn’t “kill the mood.” You simply gave that person an opportunity to tell you that they didn’t want to have sex. Rejection usually doesn’t feel good, but neither does hurting someone. Affirmative consent is sexy. So play around with how you ask for consent, figure out what way is most comfortable to you, and practice good communication with your partner(s)! Being able to talk about what you are interested in doing together gets easier, and affirmative consent is sexy! Remember: even if you do find it awkward, a few seconds of feeling awkward is worth preventing harming someone.

If you’re worried that your partner may confuse regret with sexual assault, here is a great blog explaining why that likely won’t happen.

Can you think of any more ways to ask for consent? Post below in the comments!

March Madness and Problem Gambling Awareness Month

As we all enjoy watching the Heels make their way through this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, it is an important time to remember that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month across the nation.

Image courtesy of Doug L on Flickr.
Image courtesy of Doug L. on Flickr.

Gambling occurs anytime you risk something of value on an event or activity in which the outcome is uncertain, with the hopes of receiving something of value in return, according to DSM 5. Common forms of gambling include daily fantasy or other sports betting, online poker, card/casino games, lottery tickets, and animal racing.

For many people, gambling is a fun recreational activity that is done socially and responsibly. Responsible gambling occurs when a person sets limits and views the money merely as the cost of entertainment. For others, however, gambling can lead to a harmful addiction known as a gambling disorder.

Image courtesy of Ralf Roletschek on Wikimedia.
Image courtesy of Ralf Roletschek on Wikimedia.

Gambling disorders affect about 5–10 percent of college students, which is disproportionately high compared to the larger adult population. Gambling disorders are also over-represented in male-identified individuals, members of Greek organizations, those who binge drink, and those who play video games obsessively.

As you watch your brackets this month, be sure to also watch out for the following signs of a gambling problem, either in yourself or in your friends:

  • Progressive preoccupation with gambling
  • Increased use of gambling language
  • Increased talk about wins and attempts to hide gambling losses
  • Loss of interest in non-gambling activities
  • Lying about engaging in gambling behavior
  • Compulsion to “chase losses” (gamble more to recover lost money)
  • Unexplained debt or attempts to borrow money
  • Feast or famine cash flow
  • Frequent unexplained absences from classes
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Increased symptoms of depression
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem with gambling, there are many ways to get help and support. You can always drop by Student Wellness or Counseling and Psychological Services (both located in James Taylor Campus Health Building).  Additionally, you can call, text, or chat with free and confidential help from the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program.

Gambling disorders are similar to substance use disorders and oftentimes people who struggle with these issues can find help in similar places. At UNC, the Carolina Recovery Program is an on-campus community dedicated to supporting people in recovery from addictive disorders. Consider checking it out if you think you or someone you know might have a gambling problem. If you’re just interested to see how your gambling activity compares with other college students, take the brief survey found here.

If you do choose to gamble, here are some tips for gambling responsibly:

  • Set your limit before you start gambling. Any money spent on gambling should be considered the cost of entertainment – only use money that you can afford to lose.
  • Avoid gambling when feeling lonely, depressed, angry, stressed, when coping with loss, or as a way to impress others.
  • Avoid gambling in conjunction with excessive alcohol or drug use.
  • Avoid borrowing money to gamble — it is always a high-risk decision.
  • Only gamble when it is legal.

Whether or not you choose to gamble, March is alw
ays an exciting time here at UNC.  Take some time this year to enjoy the tournament, and remember that you are obligated to cheer for two teams: (1) The Tar Heels and (2) whoever is playing Duke.

 

Shane currently works at UNC Student Wellness as the Program Assistant for Recovery Initiatives. He is in his first year of the Master of Social Work program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to starting at UNC, Shane lived in Asheville and worked in wilderness therapy programs for adolescents and emerging adults. He holds a BA in English from Georgia State University and an AS in Outdoor Leadership from Young Harris College.

Safety on the safe.unc.edu website

Have you ever wondered about the bright green “leave website now” button in the top right corner of the SAFE website?

safe website

This button is a safeguard for individuals who are experiencing violence or abuse. Abusers often control the types of information and resources their partner can access, including information about getting help. It may not be safe for someone who has a controlling partner to be browsing a website where there’s information about how to get help. Learn more about controlling behaviors here.

  • The button lets them leave the site in 1 click if the abuser enters the room or looks over their shoulder.
  • You’ll find a similar button on other websites that serve victims of violence, such as the local domestic violence agency, Compass Center for Women and Families:
    http://compassctr.org/get-help/domestic-violence/safety-planning/

If you suspect that it may not be safe for you to look at websites on getting help, be sure to clear your browser history. Click on this link for additional tips from the National Network to End Domestic Violence for staying safe online when you are in a violent or controlling relationships.

Visit the Get Help Now Section of the SAFE website for even more information about getting help for sexual or interpersonal violence or stalking.

If you’re not feeling safe in your relationship, help is available through both confidential and private resources. Everyone has a right to a safe and loving relationship.

 

Kelli is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC Student Wellness. Kelli has a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of William and Mary in Women’s Studies. Kelli believes we can prevent sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, harassment, and discrimination by changing systems of oppression, empowering bystanders, supporting survivors, and holding individuals accountable for their problematic behavior.

7 FAQs about calling the Orange County Rape Crisis Center Hotline

As staff here at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC),  we spend a lot of time talking about sexual violence because it’s our job! For others, these conversations may not come so easily. Sexual violence is an uncomfortable and deeply personal topic, and talking about your experience can feel invasive. For many people, though, talking about their experience is exactly what is needed to move forward in the healing process. OCRCC offers a 24/7 hotline (also called a crisis line or helpline) to provide an anonymous, confidential space for these conversations. Here are 7 questions that might help you in deciding whether to call the help line for support.

 

1. I’m not sure if I this is the right place to talk about my situation. Should I call the help line?

If you have any concerns about sexual violence, absolutely call the help line. Even if we’re not the best resource for what you are personally experiencing, we can help point you in the right direction. Sexual violence can be hard to talk about and nobody should have to sit alone in an uncertain situation. People can call our helpline anytime, immediately after experiencing trauma or even years later. We provide support and resources for survivors, their loved ones, and professionals who support them.

2. I don’t know who I’m talking to. Who is on the other end of the line?

The folks who answer our helpline are known as Companions. They have gone through extensive training on sexual assault, crisis counseling, and community resources so that they can provide a safe space to listen compassionately and confidentially to your concerns and to offer referrals for further assistance.

3. I don’t know what to expect. What happens when I call the hotline number?

When you call the helpline number during business hours (weekdays, 9am-5pm), a trained support person will answer right away. If you call outside of regular business hours, the call is first directed to an answering service. The person who answers will ask for your first name and phone number, then they will give this information to a Companion. The Companion will then call you at the number you provided. Or, if you would prefer not to leave a name and number, you can ask to be patched through directly to the Companion.

4. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. What kind of support is available through the OCRCC hotline?

The OCRCC helpline is a confidential, immediate resource for crisis and non-crisis situations. Companions provide space to process through racing thoughts, overwhelming emotions, and other concerns. Companions can also share information and referrals about health care options, legal options, and who to contact if we don’t have all the information to answer your specific questions. If you go to the hospital, would like to file a report with the police, or have an upcoming trial or hearing, Companions can go with you to provide in-person support.

5. I’m concerned about a friend. Can I still talk to a hotline counselor?

Yes. As a secondary survivor – a friend or family member of someone who has been sexually assaulted – it is also important to address your reaction to the situation. Working through your own concerns can help you to be more present when supporting your friend. You can also act as an advocate for your friend and call the help line to get information and resources to share with them.

6. I spoke with someone on the phone. What do I do next?

Breathe. Thank yourself for spending the time and energy to address your needs, as this is one of many steps that can help you move toward healing. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to call someone you don’t know and ask for help. Breathe again. If you called the helpline looking for referrals, reach out and call those other supports when you feel ready to do so. If you can’t reach out to others yet, call us back. We are available 24/7, and you don’t have to go through this alone. What comes next for you personally depends entirely on your situation. Whatever questions you have or whatever comes your way, we are always here to support you.

7. How do I call the OCRCC hotline?

The Orange County Rape Crisis Center’s 24-Hour Help Line is always available at 919-967-7273 or 866-WE LISTEN (866-935-4783).

 

Natalie Ziemba is a guest blogger and works as the Crisis Response Coordinator at Orange County Rape Crisis Center. She earned her BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Colorado and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa. She recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with her MSW and enjoys dismantling systemic oppression and violence.