These smiling people have your best interest in mind.

These beautiful people have your best interest in mind.

This past week Bwog received an email from a fellow student in need of a little guidance:

Can you write about CPS and mandatory leaves of absence? I’m nervous that if I talk to them about depression related issues, I will have to leave school.

Bwog cares immensely about student wellness and mental health on campus, which is why it’s decided to kick off a two-part series on navigating Columbia Psychological Services. This is an issue that hides beneath our gleaming columns and that many find difficult to confront head on, but it is an issue that affects nearly half of all students at Columbia, according to statistics from CPS. It is unfortunate, then, that so many people find themselves overwhelmed and confused by how to actually go about seeking help. That’s why in the coming week, this Bwogger will be working on compiling an insider’s guide to CPS policy and services.

But in the meantime, I’d like to give a quick answer to our tipster.

CPS is a place full of people who are here to help you. It can be a scary process to open up to someone you’ve never met before, but you have to trust that they have your best interests at heart. (That has certainly been my experience.) When you first contact CPS, you should call (212) 854-2878 for an appointment.A psychologist will ask you a few initial intake questions and evaluate your current mental state. After that, they’ll help you schedule an appointment at CPS’s main office on the 8th floor of Lerner. It might be awhile before you’re able to be seen. That’s not because they don’t care, but because of a large demand for service and a rather small staff to provide it. You should feel free to talk about anything and everything that is on your mind. I know that I have opened up about feeling hopeless, paranoid that I couldn’t trust my counselor, anxious about coming in, unsure that anything was worth it. They were always there to listen.

You didn’t explicitly mention self-harm and I’m working on finding more information on CPS’s policy regarding this issue, but it is my opinion that you should express 100% of how you feel no matter what. Sometimes it’s difficult to admit that we need to take some time for ourselves, and it’s something I’ve personally had to consider. Ultimately, you just have to be honest with yourself and understand that no class, grade, or semester is worth your happiness and physical well-being. Do whatever it is you need to do. Then come back and kick ass.

For anyone else who feels like they need to talk with someone we have provided a list of important numbers as well as a chart showing all CPS drop-in locations and times below. Remember, this too will pass. And no matter what, Bwog still loves you.

People who care via Columbia CPS