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Mental Health

Mental Health During COVID:Dear Students,Your wellbeing is of primary importance to us. We recognize that the pandemic, particularly during the holiday season, presents unique challenges to our students’ mental health.

As support, I would like to highlight some of the services offered by the College and the SUNY System. Please do not hesitate to access these resources. It is important to reach out for help when you need it. All inquiries will remain confidential.

ReachOut/Project Hope: Staffed by trained volunteers, ReachOut provides support to New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19, 8 AM to 10 PM, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential, and anonymous. The hotline number is 1-844-863-9314.

Crisis Text Line: Staffed 24/7/365 by trained volunteers skilled in active listening, Crisis Text Line helps individuals in distress move from a hot moment to a cool calm. There is a New York-specific keyword for Crisis Text Line: SUNY participants can text “Got5U” to 741-741.

Mental Health Counseling: The College continues to offer five free counseling sessions through our psychologist on retainer. You can access this service by emailing the doctor directly through the SUNY Opt SafeinSight app or the link under the Mental Health Counseling tab.

Food Pantry: The Food Pantry at Guttman Community College will continue to be available to students. The Food pantry can be accessed Monday through Friday from 10am-3pm by appointment only. SUNY Optometry students can call in advance to set-up an appointment for pick-up of non-perishable food items (perishable items are not available at this time).

T-Chats: The College offers sessions on various topics, including mental health and stress management, throughout the semester.

Suicide Prevention: For more resources on suicide prevention, visit the Suicide Prevention tab at the bottom of this page.

I would also like to draw your attention to a free online suicide prevention training available to all SUNY Optometry community members. For more information, visit qprinstitute.com.

In addition to the services outlined here, please connect with me at any time via email or by text at (808) 366-8102.

Wishing you a happy holiday season!

Gui Albieri, PhD
VP Student Affairs, CDO

The office of student affairs seeks to build a vibrant college community that is healthy and supportive in all aspects of life. We care deeply about our students’ well-being and strive to offer the services needed to be successful.

We recognize that at times your academic and clinical training can be stressful. We also understand that extenuating life circumstances can add to the levels of stress experienced by our students.

Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, and depression, often impact students’ ability to perform at their best, and have adverse effects on well-being in general, as well as negatively affect memory and learning. The College strives to foster well-rounded, compassionate health care providers who flourish in all aspects of life.

There are two general rules of thumb when dealing with distress:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help;
  2. Ask for help as soon as you feel the symptoms of distress.

Common symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and other common mental health illnesses, can be found here: Symptoms

Stress and anxiety can have both psychological and physical signs.

Common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety include:

  • stomachache
  • muscle tension
  • headache
  • rapid breathing
  • fast heartbeat
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • dizziness
  • frequent urination
  • change in appetite
  • trouble sleeping
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue

Common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety include:

  • feelings of impending doom
  • panic or nervousness, especially in social settings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irrational anger
  • restlessness

Depression can also have both physical and psychological signs:

Common physical symptoms of depression include:

  • fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Persisting aches, including stomachache, headache
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much

Common psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling worthless
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Loos of interest in things that were once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

You can take simple yet important steps towards improving your mental well-being. Often times, just talking with someone about issues that may be causing distress offers major relief.

Proven methods that you can implement to increase positive mental well-being include mindfulness and managing cognitive distortions. For more information on these methods, visit Cognitive Distortions (PDF)

Some students, however, may need more structured assistance.

We offer a host of services to help students who may be experiencing some kind of distress in their lives.

11th Floor Safe Zone
The office of Student Affairs offers a supportive, friendly safe zone with strict privacy. Regarding any issues you may be experiencing–school-related or not–you can make appointments to speak with:
Gui Albieri: galbieri@sunyopt.edu
Jackie Martinez: jmartines@sunyopt.edu
Christian Alberto: calberto@sunyopt.edu
**Walk-ins are also welcome!
Mental Health Counseling

Talking with a counselor or therapist has shown to alleviate stress symptoms and is an effective way to help you reach solutions for problems that may be causing stress.

Counselors offer individual and group counseling for a range of concerns, such as: stress, anxiety, depression, difficulty adjusting, eating concerns, relationship issues, grief, etc… All health information discussed is confidential.

To schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Nirav Soni, Licensed Psychologist, at niravsoniphd@gmail.com

Gouverneur Healthcare Services: major health insurances accepted, including Medicaid. Students without health insurance can get treatment and will be charged according to a sliding scale. Contact the Office of Student Affairs for more info.

Project LETS (Lets Erase the Stigma) at SUNY College of Optometry
Project LETS (Lets Erase the Stigma) at SUNY College of Optometry is a chapter of a national grassroots peer-led mental health and disability justice advocacy organization. Our goal is to end stigma and ableism, build community, form radical peer support collectives, provide intersectional education, and develop advocacy. We are led by and center the voices of students with lived experience of mental illness, madness, Disability, trauma, neurodivergence, and other marginalized identities. Students, faculty, and staff with lived experience are able to apply to become Peer Mental Health Advocates (PMHAs). PMHAs undergo 16-hour training and work by providing peer counseling, disability advocacy services, and rapid crisis support that is independent from the college and fully confidential.

If you are interested in either becoming involved with our chapter or would like to be assigned a Peer Mental Health Advocate to support you, please email us at sunyopt.lets@gmail.com

For further information and our list of resources visit here: linktr.ee/sunyopt_wellness

Examples of past initiatives:

  • Fall 2020 PMHA Training
  • Thanksgiving Community Check-In and Indigenous Land Acknowledgment Zoom
  • Election Day Safety Planning Resources
  • Suicide Prevention Month Instagram Campaign

Examples of future initiatives:

  • Mental Health & Wellness Panel Discussion Zoom Event
  • Community Quiet Study Zoom
  • Ableism 101 and Disability Justice Zoom Event
  • Practicing Self-Compassion Zoom Event
  • Boundary Setting Workshop Zoom Event
Crisis Text Line
SUNY has implemented a Crisis Text Line to help increase mental health awareness and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. The system is very simple to use and is fully operational. To access the service, all students must do is text “Got5U” to 741-741. Within seconds you will be connected to a therapist. The service is free to all SUNY students. Anyone experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression is encouraged to use this service.
Tea Chats
The College offers workshops throughout the year called Tea Chats on topics such as stress management, sleep hygiene, and test anxiety. We strongly encourage all students to attend these workshops.
Interfaith Prayer and meditation room
The College’s interfaith prayer and meditation room (Rm #1220) is meant to serve and accommodate students of all beliefs and to support the holistic wellness of the College community. This room is accessible to the community Monday through Friday throughout the day. If the room is locked please see Ms. Ayana Wint in the President’s suite for access.
Suicide Prevention

Students having suicidal thoughts are encouraged to seek immediate help by calling a suicide crisis helpline.

We also recommend you read Are You Feeling Suicidal?

How to help those with suicidal thoughts

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.