Looking for mental health resources? We offer background information and specialty resources for a range of topics, from alcohol to suicide prevention.

In This Section

Disclaimer:  The following external links, as well as others found throughout our site, may provide useful information about topics related to counseling and college mental health. Their listing here, however, does not indicate endorsement by the Counseling Center or Purdue University Northwest. Additionally, although information and self-help resources can be a helpful adjunct to work you are doing in counseling or in a support group, we do not necessarily recommend self-help as a sole course of treatment.

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD)

Having a substance abuse problem can range from being a problem that only impacts certain areas of your life to a debilitating disease that impacts every aspect of your life. It is possible to also have a problem with alcohol or other drugs even when it has not yet progressed to the point of alcoholism or substance dependency (abuse or addiction).

  • Problems controlling substance use
  • Preoccupied with using the substance(s)
  • Feeling a strong need or compulsion to drink or use substances
  • Continuing to use the substance(s) even after it causes problems
  • Having to take more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Having withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, shaking) when you rapidly decrease or stop using the substance(s)
  • Drinking or using the substance(s) alone or in hiding

If you are concerned about your alcohol, consider completing the eCHECKUP TO GO, a confidential online interactive assessment that you can complete anonymously. It will explore the costs and benefits of your alcohol use and information about how your alcohol use may be affecting your academic success, relationships, goals, and your overall well-being.

If you need help addressing your drinking or substance use, talk with your doctor, even if you don’t believe you have a problem but are concerned about how your drinking or substance use has impacted your health in other ways. A therapist can help identify resources to get you healthy and sober.


Anxiety, or feelings of worry, nervousness or unease, is something everyone faces. There are different types of anxiety disorders including: generalized anxiety, specific phobias, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Other anxiety spectrum disorders include: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD.

Signs that anxiety may be problematic include:

  • Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant stress or interferes with daily life
  • Avoiding social situations for fear of embarrassment
  • Panic attacks with fear of having another one
  • Irrational fears
  • Performing uncontrollable repetitive actions such as excessive cleaning, touching, arranging.
  • Recurrent flashbacks, nightmares, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event.

Treatments for anxiety disorders usually involve therapy and/or medication. Therapy addresses the emotional response to mental illness. Strategies for understanding and dealing with the anxiety include learning to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.

Coming Out

Coming out is not a one-time process. However, it is a process that individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ find necessary for their overall positive well-being. Studies have shown that those who come out as LGBTQ+ tend to have lower stress levels and a reduced incidence of depressive symptoms. They often experience living their life more openly, honestly, and enjoy an integrated and authentic lifestyle.

  • Coming out is a lifelong process of understanding, accepting, and acknowledging your identity.
  • Coming out includes both exploring your identity and sharing that identity with others. The first person you have to come out to is yourself.
  • It includes not only refers to the process of self-acceptance, but also the act of the sharing your identity with others.
  • Coming out happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Some people are aware of being different from an early age, while others only arrive there at a later age
  • Because we live in a society that assumes everyone is straight or gender and sex conforming, a LGBTQ+ person is never done coming out. Coming out is an ongoing, lifelong process Cass, V. (1979).
  • Positive role models can be difficult to find for sexual minorities. Many feel alone and unsure of their identity due to the lack of reflective role models
  • To be true to yourself and your feelings.
  • Increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ people
  • Educating people who assume that everyone is straight as well as gender conforming and sex conforming
  • To let friends and family meet the “real” you.
  • Recognizing one’s own sexual identity and working towards self-acceptance are often the first steps.
  • Sexual orientation is understood on a continuum. Sell, Randall L. (1997).
    • Exclusive same-sex attraction on one end of continuum to exclusive opposite sex attraction on the other, with many variations between
  • Generally it is a good idea to first come out to those most likely to be supportive
  • Others chose to first come out to other sexual minority people
    • By coming out to other sexual minorities, one can build a supportive network of individuals who have come out themselves.
    • This supportive network can help you to talk to other important people in your life about coming out.
    • Trust your own instincts and feelings by choosing to come out at a time that is appropriate for you.
    • It is important to proceed at your own pace, to be honest with yourself, and to spend some time reflecting within.
    • Coming out to heterosexual people may be very difficult.
    • Negative reactions may include shock, confusion, judgment and rejection.
    • If some people initially reject you, remain available to them and respond to questions you’re comfortable with as they may come to fully accept you with time.
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into ‘coming out’. It’s your life; it’s your decision; it’s your choice. You don’t have to come out.
  • Only tell someone who might react strongly if you have enough support to cope with their reaction.
  • Think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully.
  • Be aware of what the other person is going through. The best time for you might not be the best time for the person you are coming out to.
  • Present yourself honestly and remind the other person that you are the same individual you were yesterday.
  • If you’re having doubts or feeling depressed or guilty, get some support first from a counselor or telephone support line.
  • Be prepared for an initially negative reaction from some people. It took time for you to come to terms with your LGBTQ+ identity, it’s important to give others the time they need. If you fear your parents may “cut you off”, then wait until you can tell them with less fear and anxiety.
  • Be sure you have people to support you if a coming out conversation goes poorly.
  • Be careful not to let your self-esteem depend entirely on the approval of others. If a person rejects you, that’s not your fault. If time does not seem to change their attitude, then you may want to re-evaluate that relationship. You have the right to be who you are and to be out and open about all important aspects of your identity.
  • Remember that it is fine to be more out in some places than others and to come out to different people in a various ways.
  • Be ready to teach. Be prepared to answer questions the people you come out to may have or to direct them to some online resources. You can also offer them pamphlets or books.
  • Explain why you are coming out so that they can understand why this is important to you.
  • Be prepared that once you start to tell people, others might find out pretty quickly.
  • Don’t come out during an argument. Don’t use your sexuality as a weapon to hurt or shock someone else. Also, don’t do it when you’ve been drinking alcohol or using any other substance.
  • Remember to listen to what the person you are coming out to has to say also.
  • Celebrate your coming out – it’s a huge step!
  • Write a letter
    • Take your time and ensure that you fully explain everything the way you want to
    • Writing a letter allows the other person the space and time to adjust
  • Conversations
    • Open and honest communication is generally necessary at some point in the process
    • Allows the development of a relationship that has mutual understanding and trust
    • Choose a time when neither person will feel rushed or distracted
    • Multiple conversations will likely be needed: do not have unrealistic expectations
    • Encourage questions in order to bridge misunderstandings
  • Role Playing
    • Anticipate different outcomes and reactions that may occur when you decide to disclose your sexual orientation to others.
    • Find ways to cope with the possibilities of either positive or negative reactions by others. Seek personal counseling prior to coming out, if possible.
    • This may help reduce anxiety that you may currently be experiencing in anticipation of coming out. Dunne, E. J. (1987).


Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.

  • Sadness
  • Cognitive deficits: difficulty thinking, learning and memory problems
  • Emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Fatigue or loss or energy
  • Feelings of worthless or excessive guilt
  • Lack of concentration or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation.

Depression is treated depending on individual needs. Some individuals are treated with talk-therapy while others are best treated with talk-therapy and medication. The goal of therapy is designed to create strategies to help cope with everyday stressors and work through depressive symptoms. Medications can be used with therapy by altering the amount of chemicals in the brain that influence depression.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence (IPV), is defined as one person in an intimate relationship using any means to control the other individual. Types of IPV include physical, verbal (also called emotional, mental, or psychological abuse), sexual, economic/financial, and spiritual abuse.

Physical violence includes assault of any kind, ranging from pinching or pushing to choking, shooting, stabbing and murder.

  • Frequently absent from school or work
  • Have numerous injuries they try to explain away
  • Significantly low self-esteem
  • Show a significant change in their personality
  • Intense fear of conflicts
  • Passive-aggressive behavior
  • Blame themselves a lot
  • Isolate themselves from family and friends
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleepproblems or skin rashes
  • Unexplained visible bruises scratches

Below you will find different type of mental health support that provide and address the emotional needs for individuals who are in a domestic violent relationship

  • One-on-one therapy sessions
  • Support groups
  • Connected to community resources (to help with legal advocacy, sexual assault and emergency shelters)

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a result of a combination of biological, psychological, social and familial issues. There are three different types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder.

  • A refusal to maintain a healthy body weight
  • A distorted body image
  • An intense fear of gaining weight
  • Anorexic Food behavior signs
    • Preoccupation with food
    • Pretending to eat or lying about eating
    • Obsession with calories, fat grams and nutrition
  • Anorexic Appearance and body image signs
    • Feeling fat, despite being underweight
    • Fixation on body image
    • Harshly critical of appearance
    • Denial that you are too thin
  • Two types of Anorexia Nervosa:
  • Restricting Type: Weight loss is achieved primarily through dieting, fasting and/or excessive exercise.
  • Binge-Eating/Purge Type: Weight loss is achieved primarily through binge eating and purging behavior such as vomiting, laxatives, or enemas.
  • Recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food and followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives.
  • A sense of lack of control over eating.
  • Self-esteem is influenced by shape and weight
  • Binge eating occurs at least once a week for 3 months
  • Recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food and followed by a sense of lack of control over eating.
  • Binge-eating is associated with the following:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until eating feeling uncomfortable
    • Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
    • Eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment over how much food one eats
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, guilty, or depressed after eating
  • Binge eating is not associated with compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting.

A collaborative approach to treatment that may include medical doctors, mental health therapists and dieticians. Treatment usually involves:

  • Getting back to a healthy weight
  • Starting to eat more
  • Changing how you think about yourself and food

Medical treatment may involve hospitalization to stabilize any serious health conditions. The exact treatment needs of each individual will vary. It is important that individuals struggling with an eating disorder find a health professional they trust to coordinate their care.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A person who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event may develop PTSD. Traumatic events might include sexual or physical assaults, unexpected death of a loved one, war, or natural disaster. Most people who experience a traumatic event will experience shock, anger, nervousness, fear, or even guilt.

For most people, these feelings will go away over time, but for some, these feelings may continue. People who have PTSD have symptoms that last longer than one month.

  • Repeated exposure to thoughts and memories of trauma through flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares.
  • Avoidance of people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind oneself of the trauma.
  • Excessive emotions, difficulty falling or staying asleep, outburst of anger, difficulty concentrating, being easily startled. Physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, rapid breathing and muscle tension.

There are effective treatments available for PTSD. Talking with a mental health therapist about how you are dealing with PTSD is one of the first steps in getting better. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment that has been proven effective when treating PTSD. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE) are two other treatment modalities that have been proven effective.

Seasonal Affective Disorder “SAD” or “Winter Blues”

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as “winter blues,” is a condition that comes and goes based on seasonal changes, appearing mostly in the fall and winter and going away in the spring and summer.

  • Decrease in energy levels and feeling tired
  • Increase in irritability, increase in reactivity in relationships
  • Feelings of being down and/or depressed
  • Changes in appetite (i.e. increase in consumption of carbohydrates, starch and fats) that can lead to increase in weight gain
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities that one used to enjoy
  • Increase exposure to natural sunlight
    • Spending time outdoors during daylight hours
    • Purchase a “SAD” light, a special UV light, that you can sit in front of for about 30 minutes each day.
  • Build more physical activity into one’s daily routine (i.e. exercise, go to the gym)
  • Maintain social interactions with friends and family
  • Individual counseling
    • Can address SAD (seasonal affective disorder) symptoms
  • Psychotropic medication


Self-harm/self-injury is often associated as a means of coping with emotional and personal problems. Individuals who struggle to express feelings that they cannot put into words often engage in self-harm. Self-harming behavior distracts them from their life problems or is used to release emotional pain.

  • Scars, such as from burns or cuts
  • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises or other wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Keeping sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
  • Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Burning (with lit matches, cigarettes or hot sharp objects like knives)
  • Carving words or symbols on the skin
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects
  • Head banging
  • Pulling out hair
  • For children and adolescents:
    • Consult with a pediatrician or family doctor to provide initial evaluation or a referral to a mental health counselor. Be concerned, but also understanding.
    • Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, parents, health care provider, religious leader, parents or a school counselor.
  • Contact an Emergency help, such as 911 or your local emergency services provider.
  • Seek professional counseling for help.

Sexual Assault/Sexual Violence

Sexual assault is a traumatic sexual experience that interrupts an individual’s life at home, work and school. Sexual assault also affects relationships with friends, family and coworkers. If you are a sexual assault survivor, there are certain symptoms and treatment options that are associated with it. Women and men can be survivors of sexual violence, sexual assault or rape.

  • Muscle tension
  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Injury
  • Gynecological issues
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Recurring flashbacks and nightmares
  • Feeling dirty
  • Anxiety
  • Shock/numbness
  • Embarrassment
  • Feeling of loss of control over one’s life
  • Loss of trust
  • Anger/ irritable
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial
  • Preoccupation with safety
  • Reassurance and support of friends, family or significant others
  • Individual counseling
    • Can address PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, depression and dissociative disorders
  • Group counseling

Suicide Prevention

Dealing with depression is never easy. Understanding the signs and symptoms of depression can help you ensure your loved ones are given the support and assistance necessary.

  • Feeling empty, anxious, overwhelmed and hopeless
  • Increased crying spells
  • Inability to focus
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Body aches and pains
  • Thoughts and conversations regarding suicide
  • Statements of wanting or having a desire to end one’s life
  • Giving away of prized or values possessions
  • Stockpiling pills or other means to end one’s life
  • Increase is substance use/abuse
  • Stated plan or intent to end one’s life
  • Seek help from a mental health counselor
    • Help with remedying the pain he or she has suffered and continues to suffer with
  • Contact an Emergency help, such as 911 or your local emergency services provider.
  • Build a support group
    • Building a support group for your friend or loved one is important when they are suffering from depression. Gathering their most trusted friends and family is a way to show you are there for them.

Additional Mental Health Resources

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Contact Us

Phone: (219) 989-2366
Fax: (219) 989-2517