On April 30, 2019, a gunman opened fire in UNC Charlotte’s Kennedy building, killing two students and injuring four others. As the tragedy's one year anniversary approaches, many students will rely heavily on the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
“Every year CAPS has an increase in the number of students that seek our services,” said Assistant Director for Outreach Erica Lennon.
“However, in the fall semester, the increase we saw as compared to the previous year was above and beyond what we typically see. We do believe that the impact of the shooting on April 30 was a factor in this as many students returned for the first time to campus in the fall since leaving after the shooting. With the approaching anniversary, we have also seen students seeking us out to discuss the impact of this anniversary on them.”
Due to COVID-19, students are no longer able to meet with counselors on campus at the CAPS building. However, services are being provided virtually for any UNC Charlotte student residing in North Carolina who needs them.
While the CAPS telehealth counseling services are only available to students in North Carolina and for students in other states where an agreements between states has been reached due to state licensing laws, CAPS can provide a phone consultation to any student to address immediate needs and make referrals regardless of where they reside.
“Given the shifts in the way that the University has been delivering services remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been using the last month to ensure our resources are accessible remotely by students on that day. We will have several counselors on-call throughout the day, both in the morning and in the afternoon, to support students. Students can access us by calling 704-687-0311 to receive assistance in connecting with a counselor.”
There are many resources available on the CAPS website (caps.uncc.edu). CAPS has added a new section to their website entitled “Responding to April 30” where they are hosting virtual events. They have also provided helpful information such as coping strategies, knowing when to seek help and other available services including tips for coping with post-traumatic stress, grief and loss, school shootings and how faculty can help after a shooting.
Originally the events that CAPS had prepared were going to take place on campus but now due to COVID-19, they must happen virtually. One such event is called Paw Pals, where participants can watch some of CAPS’ furry friends play and do tricks from the comfort of one’s own home. The sessions for Paw Pals will be held at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Lunchtime Art with CAPS will be held at 12:00 p.m. during which participants can take part in a virtual arts session focused on “creativity and expressing yourself.” Finally, the Meditation and Yoga sessions will take place at 8:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. This session will provide information on the benefits of meditation as well as a guided meditation practice and a session of restorative yoga aimed at releasing tension and stress.
“No two healing journeys look the same,” said Lennon.
“Whatever you are feeling is the thing that is right for you on this day. Everyone who was a part of the campus community last April 30 was impacted in some way. We hope you can suspend any judgment of your healing process and know that your mind, body and heart are doing what they need to do. You are not alone. Healing from a traumatic event can often feel lonely at times. Many of us might wonder if others can really ‘get’ what we are feeling and may feel an urge to isolate from others. If you need some space on this day, take it. But know that others are with you in this healing journey and you have people who are ready to support you if you need it, including CAPS.”