IS FRONT PAGE:

Mind

Your Emotional Self

People from all walks-of-life come to NC State to imagine a positive future, develop creative- and critical-thinking skills, and acquire practical experiences to make their dreams and dream-jobs a reality. Clear thinking is essential for thriving in the modern economy. Clear thinking inspires constructive communication and collaborative problem-solving, which most employers value and reward.

Do not underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence in the process. Feeling and thinking go hand-in-hand. They’re partners. In fact, some neuroscience researchers like Antonio Damasio, MD, PhD, argue that feelings and emotions are the source of thoughts, reasoning, choices, and actions.

Because many of your NC State courses will focus heavily on helping you develop logical thought processes and problem-solving skills, we encourage you to explore the role of the emotional mind as well. Take the opportunity to research and write about emotions and emotional intelligence. Also, develop a relationship with a campus counselor in NC State’s free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP). Work with them to learn how to notice, accurately name, and make use of your emotions in constructive ways that will enhance your creative- and critical-thinking skills. Combine your feeling-self with your thinking-self and thrive.

  • Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize your own emotions and those of others; to understand the qualities of different emotions and to name the emotions accurately; to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior; and to manage and adjust your emotions (i.e., to bring their intensity down or up) to adapt to new and changing environments.

    People with emotional intelligence use their own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, increase social awareness and connectedness, empathize with others, communicate effectively, overcome challenges, defuse conflicts, and achieve their goals. Daniel Goleman, PhD, is an American psychologist and science journalist who helped popularize emotional intelligence with his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. According to Goleman, there are five key elements to EI:

    • Self-awareness
    • Self-regulation
    • Motivation
    • Empathy
    • Social skills

    Emotional intelligence is also an attribute in some of the most effective team leaders, supervisors, and executives in nonprofit, for-profit, governmental, and faith-based organizations. One of the best ways to increase your emotional intelligence is to engage in conversations with a licensed counselor in NC State’s free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP). They will guide you through a journey of self-discovery that will include a deeper and broader understanding of your inner life and your relationships.

  • Your success with social relationships often begins with an internal attitude or disposition—a way of looking at yourself, your experiences, and the world around you, especially other people. At NC State, we promote the growth mindset among our students. It’s a positive and productive way of feeling and thinking about yourself that helps you gain momentum in your college experience. The growth mindset is based upon research which shows that the human brain has the ability to rewire itself throughout life—from birth through adulthood.

    Some students come to college with a fixed mindset. They believe that some things about them will not change. We disagree. If you believe you’re not good at math or English or connecting with other people, we encourage you to change that belief and engage in a new way of thinking. If you believe you’re not good at taking tests or speaking in front of a group, we encourage you to challenge that belief, too.

    Here are some positive thoughts that will influence your growth mindset and relationships.

    • I like to try new things.
    • I can learn to do anything I want.
    • Challenges help me grow.
    • My attitude and effort influence my ability to learn new ideas and skills.
    • Learning is often a process of creating then revising and revising again and again—until I achieve mastery.
    • Setbacks are not failures: they are opportunities to try again and revise.
    • I will replace the feeling of failure with the feeling of not-yet: “I have not-yet mastered the skill, but I will.”
    • Feedback from faculty, peers, and employers is constructive: it helps me gain a new perspective and approach.
    • Big accomplishments are often achieved through a series of small incremental successes over time.
    • I am inspired by my successes and the successes of others.

  • We encourage you to be curious and ask questions inside classrooms and outside. This is the heart of the NC State culture. Know what you know. Know what you don’t know. Be honest about it. And ask good questions. This is the foundation of all learning—in school, at work, and in the community for the rest of your life. Here’s a brief summary of a simple technique for navigating your experiences at NC State and in the community:

    • Be genuinely curious about yourself and the world around you, especially other people and their experiences and perspectives
    • Believe that every life experience is an opportunity to learn and grow
    • Ask questions
    • Stay open to answers and listen without judgement
    • Ask more clarifying questions if necessary
    • Compare answers you receive from conversations, from printed and online documents, and from audio podcasts and videos
    • Make a decision
    • Speak your truth and take action
    • Observe and evaluate the results of your decisions and actions
    • Ask more questions of yourself and others
    • Revise your decisions and actions if necessary
    • Remember that setbacks are not failures: they are opportunities to learn, change, and grow

  • Making an appointment with and talking to a counselor does not mean you are weak or that there is something wrong with you. In fact, it means the opposite. It means you have the courage, curiosity, and strength to get to know yourself better and more deeply. Embrace the intuitive feelings that may be nudging you to schedule an appointment and do it: step into the unknown to begin, restart, or continue your journey into self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-love, and more compassionate relationships with others.

    You don’t need to be in crisis to talk to a counselor or therapist. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how helpful a chat about wellness and mental health can be for your journey to more peaceful, joyful, and vibrant living.

  • All students* who are currently enrolled in for-credit classes at NC State are eligible for the free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP), which is administered by licensed counselors and social workers from New Directions counseling center in Mansfield, Ohio. All services are confidential, which means SAP staff protect your identity and any information you choose to share about yourself.** They do not provide that information to anyone else, not even your family. SAP provides assessment, brief counseling, and referral services for a wide range of concerns. Examples include the following:

    • College adjustment
    • Test anxiety
    • Basic-needs assessment (e.g., food, housing, transportation, healthcare, childcare, personal safety)
    • Emotional health
    • Relationships (building and maintaining safe and trusting relationships)
    • Gender and sexual identity
    • Parenting
    • Finances
    • Legal concerns
    • Veterans issues

    Counselors and therapists also help students with various emotional and mental health issues. Examples include the following:

    • Stress
    • Anxiety
    • Social anxiety
    • Panic attacks
    • Depression
    • Relationship difficulties
    • Eating disorders
    • Substance abuse
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Episodes of intense emotions, obsessive thoughts, mental health symptoms, or psychosis
    • Trauma experiences (being a witness to or victim of violence and other forms of physical or emotional assault and neglect)
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Much more

    * Editor’s Note: Middle school and high school students enrolled at NC State through the College Credit Plus (CCP) or College-NOW programs should contact their middle- or high-school counseling or health departments for mental health services.

    ** Editor’s Note: Counselors in the State of Ohio are required by law to report some acts or potential acts of harm, such as violence, neglect, and abuse. Our counselors will have a confidential conversation with you about this topic and provide opportunities for you to ask questions.

  • Sometimes there may be a waiting list to see a counselor at our on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP). It’s a popular service. The counselors have many years of experience working with college students of all ages and from all walks of life. Here are a few things you can do while you are waiting for your appointment:

    • Keep your name on the waiting list to hold your spot.
    • Contact crisis services or a suicide hotline if you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm (see link to “Resources” at top of page).
    • Make an appointment with a counselor at a community-based counseling center.
    • Attend a student-operated mental health group like NAMI on Campus.
    • Talk to a friend or family member who you feel is safe:
      • Tell them about your current struggles
      • Spend some time with this person doing something you enjoy: for example, maybe go for a walk, meet for lunch or dinner, watch a movie or play a videogame together
    • If you feel you are in academic crisis, contact a success coach or academic advisor at the Student Success Center.
    • Be sure to take care of your physical needs:
      • Sleep regularly and deeply
      • Eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables
      • Drink water and other healthy fluids with little to no sugar, caffeine, or alcohol
      • Exercise
      • Slow down, breathe deeply and intentionally, and settle into a naturally calm state
      • Stay socially connected to people you trust

    For more information, consult the “Resources” link at the top of this page.

  • You don’t need to be in crisis to talk to fellow students about wellness and mental health. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how helpful a conversation about it can be for your journey. NC State has student organizations that are dedicated to enhancing wellness and mental health among all students. Consider joining or starting a group to promote social supports for thriving during and after your college experience.

    NC State has a chapter of NAMI on Campus. This is a college-based program of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), which sponsors student-lead groups on campuses throughout the country. Students work together to raise awareness about mental health, educate the campus community, advocate for services, and support each other through their personal journeys. NAMI on Campus is open to all students, whether they live with a mental health condition, are a family member or friend of someone who has a condition, or have a general interest in mental health. NAMI on Campus aims to address the mental health needs of all students so they have positive, successful, and fun college experiences.

  • Feelings, thoughts, and self-perceptions are a natural part of the human experience no matter how quiet and calm or intense they may be. That’s why we hesitate to use the words mental illness and mental disorders on this website. Too often, people in our culture are quick to label naturally occurring feelings and thoughts as symptoms of mental illness or mental disorder. People often use these labels without truly understanding what they mean and what their impact might be upon someone’s self-perception and feelings of self-worth.

    Yet, sometimes it is helpful to make a clear distinction among the levels of intensity and describe your feelings, thoughts, and self-perceptions as being on a continuum of mild, moderate, or severe. This will help you and your counselor or therapist distinguish what level of help you might need. We include a brief description of this continuum of intensity from the book On Being and Having a Case Manager, because we believe it may help all of us develop a better understanding of mental health and wellness:

    “Throughout life—from birth to old age—each of us uses internal resources (feelings and thoughts) to acquire external resources, such as food, clothing, housing, medicine, education, employment, income, and supportive relationships and services. In short, we strive to meet our needs and desires. The internal and external worlds constantly interact, each influencing the other.

    “Like the world around us, our internal world is in a constant state of flux. It is always changing. Sometimes we feel vibrant and alive. Sometimes we feel quiet and still. At times, the shifts are manageable: we find a way to manage the tension between the two to achieve our goals with success and satisfaction. In other words, we maintain our mental health. However, sometimes the shifts are difficult to manage. We experience unbearable, disruptive, or debilitating feelings and thoughts, which inhibit our abilities to take care of ourselves, to interact with others, and to feel satisfied. In other words, we experience mental illness” (Longhofer, p.5).

    If you would like help understanding the continuum of intensity of your own feelings and thoughts, we encourage you to make an appointment with a licensed counselor in our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP)*.

    * Editor’s Note: Middle school and high school students enrolled at NC State through the College Credit Plus (CCP) or College-NOW programs should contact their middle- or high-school counseling or health departments for mental health services.

  • As we noted in the previous section above, sometimes our feelings, thoughts, and self-perceptions become so severe and persistent that they may disrupt or interfere with our ability to manage daily tasks needed to survive and thrive. When this occurs, our wellness and mental health may tip toward illness. Keep in mind that this is not a permanent state of being. It is a condition (or circumstance) that can be identified, worked with, treated, and managed over time. An important first step is to identify the signs and signifiers (the symptoms) of the condition.

    We include a brief introduction to symptoms of mental disorders from the book On Being and Having a Case Manager, because it may help all of us develop a better understanding of them:

    “The technical or clinical term for mental illness is mental disorder. All disorders have symptoms, which are internal experiences (feelings, thoughts, self-perceptions) and external expressions (behaviors or actions). There are many symptoms—too numerous to list here.

    “The severity of symptoms occurs along a continuum from mild to severe. Mild symptoms do not always disrupt or debilitate. With mild symptoms, we do not lose our ability to take care of ourselves, to maintain relationships with others, and to achieve personal goals with success and satisfaction. Severe symptoms almost always do. . . . With severe symptoms, we are more likely to experience negative life outcomes, including the following:

    • Broken relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers
    • Underemployment and unemployment
    • Poverty
    • Arrest, incarceration, and re-incarceration (recidivism)
    • Homelessness
    • Inadequate healthcare
    • Poor nutrition
    • Hospitalization and emergency room visits
    • Complications resulting from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer
    • Witnessing and being victims of violence, including physical assault, sexual assault, and death
    • Suicide” (Longhofer, p.6-7)

    If you would like help understanding your own experiences with symptoms of mental illness and their continuum of intensity (i.e., mild, moderate, severe), we encourage you to make an appointment with a licensed counselor in our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP)*.

    * Editor’s Note: Middle school and high school students enrolled at NC State through the College Credit Plus (CCP) or College-NOW programs should contact their middle- or high-school counseling or health departments for mental health services.

  • If you experience thoughts of suicide, know that this is a common experience for many people, especially those who feel a lot of stress or live with difficult circumstances. We encourage you to talk to a mental health professional or medical professional about the thoughts and not feel ashamed that they are occurring. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of the licensed counselors in our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP)*. These counselors have many years of experience working with college students of all age groups and from all walks of life.

    Our campus counselors explain that thoughts of suicide often function as a stress-release valve or an escape hatch from severe and persistent feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, or shame, among others. Campus counselors are trained to be curious with you about suicidal thoughts. They help you discover the feelings behind the thoughts and your insights about strategies for reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of those thoughts.

    * Editor’s Note: Middle school and high school students enrolled at NC State through the College Credit Plus (CCP) or College-NOW programs should contact their middle- or high-school counseling or health departments for mental health services.

  • If you feel that you or someone you know might act upon suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately. Also, schedule an appointment with a licensed counselor in our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP). Visit the “Resources” page for phone numbers and more information.

  • Psychosis is a condition that impacts the mind and causes people to see, hear, or believe things that are not considered real by others. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), psychosis is a symptom, not an illness. It can occur as the result of a physical illness, mental illness, addiction to alcohol or other drugs (i.e., substance-induced psychosis), and extreme stress or trauma.

    Schizophrenia is one form of psychotic disorder. It involves a psychosis (or psychoses) that usually occurs for the first time in later adolescence or early adulthood. Hallucinations are one form of psychosis. Examples include the following:

    • Auditory hallucinations: hearing voices that others do not
    • Tactile hallucinations: perceiving strange physical sensations that are difficult to explain
    • Visual hallucinations: seeing people, objects, entities, or events that others do not or perceiving unusual distortions in shapes

    Warning Signs of First Episode

    Before a first episode of psychosis (FEP) occurs, people may exhibit changes in the way they feel, think, and act. This may last days, weeks, months, or even years. A psychotic experience typically does not start suddenly. Some warning signs of psychosis include the following:

    • Decline in self-care
    • Disinterest in personal hygiene
    • Worrisome drop in school performance (grades) or job performance
    • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
    • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas, or a strong feeling of unease around others
    • Spending more time alone than usual and withdrawing from social contact with others
    • Unusual and overly intense new ideas
    • Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
    • Confused speech or trouble communicating
    • Emotional intensity that does not match the circumstances or situation
    • No emotions at all (flat affect)

    Getting Help for Psychotic Experiences

    If you would like help understanding your own experiences with psychosis or other symptoms of mental illness, we encourage you to make an appointment with a licensed counselor in our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP)*.

    Suicide Prevention & Crisis Intervention

    If someone you know is having a psychotic experience (episode), call 911 as soon as possible.

    * Editor’s Note: Middle school and high school students enrolled at NC State through the College Credit Plus (CCP) or College-NOW programs should contact their middle- or high-school counseling or health departments for mental health services.

  • We’ve mentioned this before, and we mention it again as a reminder that you can take an active role in helping yourself and others through difficult times. If you have a friend, classmate, or family member who seems to be struggling or suffering, there are ways to approach them and connect them to services.

    The first thing you can do is be a good friend. Be present. Be kind. And listen without judgement. You can also validate their feelings, appreciate their courage, and refer them to sources of support. This approach is called the “3 V-A-R Steps: Validate, Appreciate, Refer.” It was developed by a national student support organization called Active Minds. We include it below because we believe in its power to help.

    • Validate their feelings. Let them know what they are feeling is okay and that you believe in them. Validate sounds like this:
      • “I believe you.”
      • “That makes sense.”
      • “That sounds difficult.”
      • “I’m sorry you are struggling right now.”
    • Appreciate their courage. Speaking up can be a challenging step. Let them know it’s a good one. Also show you are there to support them. Affirmation sounds like this:
      • “Thank you for sharing.”
      • “Thank you so much for talking to me. That took a lot of courage.”
      • “You are not alone.”
      • “I’m here for you.”
    • Refer them to skills and support. Let them know help is available and refer them to appropriate resources. Refer sounds like this:
    • “I’ve been using this meditation app. It’s really helped me slow down my thoughts.”
    • “I think it might be helpful to talk to someone. I can stay with you while we call/text a hotline.”
    • “Sometimes taking time for self-care and listening to a comedy podcast helps me. Can we do that together?”

    • Jeffrey Longhofer, Paul M. Kubek, and Jerry Floersch (2010). On Being and Having a Case Manager: A Relational Approach to Recovery in Mental Health. New York: Columbia University Press, p.5-7 | http://cup.columbia.edu/book/on-being-and-having-a-case-manager/9780231132657
    • 3 V-A-R Steps: Validate, Appreciate, Refer | Active Minds | https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/basic-var/var-steps