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Getting Help

Human Resources, Health Promotion and CAPS provide extra support for mental health needs in difficult times

Posted in: Health, Homepage News, Human Services, University

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The disruption, isolation and loss caused by the pandemic can be difficult. If you are struggling to cope, the University is here to help.

“We want students – and others – to know that they are not alone,” says Marie Cascarano, coordinator of Health Promotion.

Students can access a variety of resources, from traditional counseling to support groups, to fun social activities and videos, to downloadable apps through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Health Promotion. CAPS also provides referrals and consultations for faculty and staff.

Counselors are available for students 24/7. Call CAPS at 973-655-5211. If calling after hours (including nights, weekends, holiday breaks and during weather closings), choose option 2 to connect to a licensed mental-health counselor.

All employees can get free, confidential assistance for themselves and their families from the University’s Employee Assistance Program, which is provided by Atlantic Health System. To schedule a free, confidential appointment, call 800-242-7371. Additional resources for employees can be found through Human Resources’ Restart Employee Resources page.

Members of the University community are encouraged to look out for each other. “It’s clear that students are experiencing a great deal of stress and isolation,” says Writing Professor Emily Isaacs, who is also executive director of the Office for Faculty Development. She notes that “the University classroom – wherever it may be – remains a place we need to connect as human beings.”

“Faculty feel enormous empathy for students. Many of us are really struggling, too, with loss, fear, isolation, over-work, worry,” she says. “So we get it, and we want to help.”

Resources through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Health Promotion:

  • Coping 101 – A skills training, drop-in group for students to learn and practice techniques to cope with negative feelings, such as extreme sadness, anxiety and anger. Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills, which focus on mindfulness, regulating emotions, tolerating distress and improving relationships, are taught. Topics change each week. Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Use this link to join:
  • TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) – A completely private online library of behavioral health resources, provided free to students or employees, offering guided therapy for stress, anxiety, depression and other concerns. The TAO mobile app makes it easy to practice skills like changing thought patterns and learning to relax.
  • Let’s TeleTalk – One-on-one support Monday – Friday, offered nine times a week.
  • Connections: Adjusting to Life in the Time of COVID – In addition to the health concerns, the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic can feel heavy and overwhelming. To provide support to our students, CAPS hosts a weekly drop-in online support group to connect and share tips for getting through this challenging time. Mondays, 11 a.m. – noon, Zoom. Open to all Montclair State undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Recovery Room – Recovery Room is an informal group for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students to support one another in a safe environment, open to those who want to explore their relationship with alcohol and other drugs, who self-identify as recovering from alcohol and other drugs, or seek recovery resources. Recovery Room is held in a virtual space this semester on Tuesdays 3-4 p.m. and Thursdays 11 a.m. – noon, via Zoom.
  • Parenting in Recovery – Parenting in Recovery is an informal group for currently enrolled students who are raising children while seeking recovery. Mondays, 9 a.m., Zoom. For more information, including Zoom link, contact Dr. Kristine De Jesus at or 973-655-4215.
  • Mindfulness Meditation – Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being self-aware with an extra focus on your breath. Practicing mindfulness meditation may lower your stress, help you connect better with yourself and others, and increase focus by calming your mind. Participate on Mondays, 1 p.m., via Zoom with video or audio only.
  • Studio DIY – Tap into your creative side and join Health Promotion for Do-It-Yourself crafting activities that are designed to reduce anxiety and stress, boost confidence, and improve memory, problem-solving and concentration. Take and make craft kits are available for pick up at the Drop In Center Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. A new craft will be available every other week.
  • Doodle to Destress – Doodle, color, paint, or craft to wind down or simply get creative. All you need is paper and a writing utensil! Stop by the Drop-In Center and pick up a doodle kit.
  • Brain Break – Take a moment or two throughout the day to pause and reset. Short breaks throughout the day can help increase your focus, productivity, and boost your mood. Available on Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube.
  • The Graduate Get-Together is a student-led space for expression or casual conversation during stressful times. Open to all currently enrolled graduate students. First meeting is February 24 at 12 p.m.: Practicing Self Compassion. Discussing themes like aging, living through a pandemic, taking care of your body and work-life balance.
  • The Health Promotion Drop-In Center (that small red and white building located between the Student Center and Richardson Hall) is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday for students to come in for information, conversation and referrals. The Drop-In Center is staffed by specially trained undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Healthy Minds Study – On February 16, all Montclair State students received an email message from “Karen L. Pennington, PhD” at inviting them to participate in this nationwide research project. The confidential information gathered through the study will be used to inform policy, practice and funding for programs and services on campus, thus improving student life. Please look for this email in your Montclair State University gmail account. Participants are eligible to win Amazon gift cards.

More Mental Health Support: Contact CAPS during or after business hours if you need assistance. Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 973-655-5211. After Hours Support: You can always reach a qualified clinician. After hours (including nights, weekends, holiday breaks and during weather closings) licensed mental-health counselors are available for crisis. Call 973-655-5211 and choose OPTION 2 to be immediately connected to a counselor.

Follow the Office of Health Promotion on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Tik Tok. For more information, including Zoom links, contact Dr. Marie Cascarano at

Find links to outside resources here.

Story by Staff Writer Mary Barr Mann

Related reading:
Mental Health Month: Creating Space for Humanity
Taking Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19