By Jonathan Morales
Threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic have created stress and anxiety for many people – even leading others into depression. For some, unanticipated cost and the requirements of social distancing restrict access to mental health services even as it is needed most.
To help, Sacramento State’s Center for Counseling and Diagnostic Services (CCDS) is offering free virtual counseling to members of the Sacramento community. The 50-minute “teletherapy” sessions are provided by Sacramento State graduate counseling students under licensed faculty supervision.
Counselors can assist with personal issues – such as anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and relationships – and many have specialties, including marriage, couples, family and career.
The Center has been operating for more than 50 years, providing low-cost counseling to members of the community and helping students obtain the required direct counseling hours they need to become licensed. In response to the University’s move to online instruction and California’s shelter-in-place order, the Center transitioned to virtual service to ensure students could continue to practice and existing clients could still receive care.
Offering the service to additional people – and eliminating cost concerns – was a natural extension of that transition, said Clinic Director Michael Levine.
“It’s kind of twofold. One, is just a responsibility to our clients,” Levine said. “Two, a lot of people in the community, I assume, are experiencing a great deal of anxiety and depression with everything going on. We can provide a therapeutic outlet for people to call in from their homes or wherever they can find a confidential space.”
CCDS services typically are provided for a small fee that works out to about $7 a session, which can be waived in instances of financial hardship. During the coronavirus pandemic, Levine said, the Center is waiving the fee for everyone.
Appointments are required and are available Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sessions are conducted via the teleconferencing platform Zoom. Levine said the Center is maintaining its normal appointment schedule so clients can transition back to in-person counseling, if needed, once the pandemic ends.
Levine said clients often tell him that without the Sacramento State students who work at CCDS, they would not have access to mental health services.
“If we’re able to give back and provide a service that a lot of people may have difficulty accessing due to insurance or lack of financial resources, and we can provide it at no cost, I feel like it would be neglectful not to do that,” Levine said. “I just hope to continue to help as many people as we can during these times.”
To schedule an appointment, call CCDS at 916-278-6252 or e-mail CCDS@csus.edu. For more information, visit the Center’s web page.