The CHWS Rundown: What health services do they offer and how can you access them?

Located in the hallways of Upper Wheelock in the Student Union Building is Counseling, Health & Wellness Services, better known among the student body as CHWS.

According to their website, CHWS’ purpose is “to help students develop skills that foster lifelong health: the knowledge and confidence to be one’s own health care advocate and the ability to function effectively as a self-aware individual and community member.”

CHWS offers a wide range of services and resources to benefit the campus community including primary medical care, mental health services, STI screening, support groups and referrals for off-campus treatment if necessary.

With the semester wrapping up, stress levels on the rise and the “Puget Plague” (the nickname given to colds and flus that spread like wildfire throughout the student body) on another tour around campus, it’s more important than ever for students to take advantage of the services CHWS has to offer, especially for mental health.

Designed to address the campus’ various needs, CHWS provides counseling to students on topics of depression, anxiety, addiction, grief, sexuality and gender identity exploration, eating disorders, help during times of transition, and bipolar or mood disorders.

Making the personal decision to seek help with mental health is challenging, but CHWS makes the actual process of initiating counseling easy. On a first-come, first-serve basis, CHWS offers drop-in screening appointments Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.

These appointments help staff determine the student’s needs and pair them with a compatible psychologist for ongoing, long-term counseling if necessary, or for a one-time session. It’s noncommittal and counseling services are FREE (primary medical services do have a fee of $25-35), costing you at most an hour of your time.

Group counseling options are also available, with support group topics ranging from Life Hacking 101, a class where participants learn about mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness, to All Addictions Anonymous, a weekly meeting of students seeking support with substance abuse, gambling and other forms of addiction.

Support groups are subject to change depending on student interest, with an updated list on the bulletin board outside of the CHWS offices. The groups meet at various times and locations, including at CHWS, the Social Justice Center, and the chapel.

Given all that CHWS has to offer the campus community, it’s easy to wonder why students hesitate to take advantage of these services. The short answer: CHWS has a complicated reputation, but don’t let this dissuade you from seeking help.

The primary culprit is the wait time, a problem that used to be worse, but thanks to the efforts of people like Puget Sound senior Jack Aldisert, is notably shrinking.

“I went and tried to take advantage of CHWS’ services, and what I found there was that everybody who worked there was great and wanted to help and had a lot to offer students, but just due to the nature of how it’s funded and the amount of space and money they have, they’re not able to see students more than once every two weeks I believe, and that struck me as kind of under-serving the student population,” he said.

Aldisert ran for ASUPS Junior Senator with the intent of collaborating with CHWS to create positive change, which he did through assisting with publicity campaigns and screening and interviewing prospective hires.

“In my experience, they are really good about actually taking the student input into account in the hiring process, it’s not just bringing students in the room so that they can say they brought students in the room. Students are actually treated equally during that process, which is great, and not what I expected,” Aldisert said.

With progressive changes happening and student voices part of the conversation, the Counseling, Health & Wellness center is an invaluable resource to the University of Puget Sound.

To experience CHWS for yourself and schedule an appointment, visit in-person at Wheelock Student Center Room 216, online through the CHWS communication portal, or by phone (253.879.1555).