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Mental Health

Group Therapy

Are you someone who:

  • Is constantly thinking about your food, weight or body image?
  • Have difficulty concentrating because of these thoughts?
  • Experience guilt or shame around eating?
  • Feel "out of control" when it comes to food?

The Body Project

This group will be a combination of a psychoeducation group– using 'The Body Project' workbooks, developed for promotion of body acceptance and the prevention of eating disorders; and a process group, in which members share t

What is BASICS?

Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is a service for students who want to explore their alcohol use.  It is designed to assist students in examining their own substance use behaviors in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational environment.

The goal of BASICS is to help students reduce risky behaviors and harmful effects from drinking.

Mental Health Therapist

She received her Bachelor's in Psychology from University of Washington, and Master's in Counseling from Seattle University.  Trilingual in Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese and English, she has served as a counselor working with diverse populations on a college campus, private practice, youth drug and gang prevention program, tobacco cessation program, overseas disaster relief counseling, and Asian American community mental health agencies in Los Angeles and Seattle area.  With her person-centered, strength-based therapeutic approaches and her deep sense of compassion, Chia-Wen has assisted many to overcome their life struggles and mental health challenges, to achieve their treatment and their life goals.  As an immigrant from Taiwan, Chia-Wen has experienced the cultural adjustment in her adolescent years. She loves to help people overcome their life transitions, such as cultural adjustment between collective and individualistic cultures, and achieve their potentials. She is passionate in helping and empowering young adults during their identity development and crisis, relational struggles, and overcoming anxiety and depression.

(Licensed mental health counselor, license LH60209064)

Unit Head and Mental Health Therapist

Rachel received her MA in Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark College in 2003. She has previous mental health experience in residential, day hospital, outpatient and school settings. Recently, Rachel has been working with adolescents, young adults and families in the areas of Chemical Dependency and Eating Disorders.  Rachel's areas of interest include family issues; transitioning into adulthood and other life changes;eating disorders and substance abuse.  Her therapeutic orientation is eclectic; but balances positive regard with problem solving. Of particular interest is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; Family Systems and Narrative Therapy.

(Licensed mental health counselor, license #LH00009572)


Dr. Suydam received her M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1992 and her B.S. in Psychobiology from University of Southern California in 1988. After completing a residency in general psychiatryand a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at University of Washington in 1997, Dr. Suydam worked in the community at Seattle Childrens Home, Fairfax Psychiatric Hospital and Overlake Hospital as well as having a privatepractice. Her interest in HIV psychiatry and Emergency psychiatry led her to workat UW Virology Clinic and Harborview Medical Center for several years beforejoining the staff at Hall Health in 2012.



young woman sleepingInsomnia is when you can not get enough sleep to feel rested.  Insomnia is more than just the number of hours you spend asleep; it is also the quality of your sleep that matters.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of insomnia may include:


Feeling anxious about your job prospects after school?  You're not alone.

photo of graduating students in cap & gown During uncertain economic times, graduate students are faced with increased anxiety about the current job market and economy, as well as the challenges of graduating.

What is anxiety?

All of us are prone to feel some anxiety in our lives. But when anxiety affects our day to day functioning and enjoyment of life, it becomes an illness. Many people with anxiety disorder do not recognize it. You may have an anxiety disorder if you worry too much on most days for at least six months. Your anxiety may make it hard for you to live life normally. You might find it difficult to get a job, go to classes or make friends.

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?broken, chewed pencil to show anxiety issues

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can vary from person to person and can include the following:

  • Excessive worry and anxiety on an almost daily basis for 6 months or more.
  • An inability to control your worries.
  • The anxiety can be associated with other symptoms,  including restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Some people also experience headaches and body pain with no medical explanation.
  • Panic attacks involving sweating, shaking, racing heart, shortness of breath,nausea, tightness in the stomach or jaw may also occur.
  • These symptoms can cause significant impairment in your ability to function.

How is anxiety diagnosed?

Many people with anxiety are embarrassed to tell their clinician about it. An anxiety disorder is commonly diagnosed by your medical or mental health provider by asking you questions about your symptoms. There are several rating scales or questionnaires that are used to diagnose anxiety, such as the one below.

 rating scale or questionnaire that isused to diagnose anxiety

If you scored higher than 5 on this self-assessment, you may want to consider talking to your health care or mental health provider about your symptoms.

What treatments are available for anxiety?

It is important to realize that the treatment of anxiety usually takes time. You may not be "cured," but your symptoms will subside and your quality of life will improve with treatment.  Treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective for the treatment of anxiety. Cognitive therapy works by helping you understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to anxiety.
  • Medications. Classes of drugs called anti-depressants, Beta-blockers and anti-psychotics have been used to treat anxiety. Brand names you may recognize include Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft.  Anxiolytics (benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium and non-benzodiazepines like Buspar) are also used. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, especially when used without medical supervision. Herbal remedies like Kava, Valerian and St. John's wort have also been used to allay anxiety. 
  • Meditation and relaxation training: We really do not know how these work, but they are effective in treating anxiety and have no known harmful effects. Mindfulness meditation is the oldest known technique to deal with anxiety. It teaches us to be aware of anxious thoughts as just thoughts passing through our awareness and we can learn to see them as mental events without having to react to them or try to get rid of them.

Are there other types of anxiety disorders?

Yes. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms:

  • Panic attacks are characterized by a sudden intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger – as if something terrible is about to happen. These feelings may be accompanied by sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling light headed, a pounding heart, shaky hands and can last 30-60 minutes.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in people who have either witnessed or lived through a potentially life threatening event such as an accident, natural disaster, war or intimate partner violence. Symptoms may develop weeks, months or years later in some cases. PTSD is characterized by anxiety, with flashbacks of the threatening event, nightmares, jumpiness, irritability or physical symptoms like digestive problems, aches and pains.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  People with OCD suffer from disturbing thoughts (obsessions) and images that are difficult to shake off and which they know are ridiculous. They may indulge in repetitive behaviors or rituals to ward off the accompanying anxiety. Such behaviors may take a lot of time to complete. Common examples are fear of germs or dirt, checking door locks, arranging and re-arranging objects for hours.
  • Phobia is the fear of something, such as an animal (spiders), a situation (riding in elevators) or open places (agoraphobia). People with a phobia will do anything to avoid the fearful stimulus. This can make life very difficult.

Getting help

Help at the University of Washington

Hall Health Mental Health Clinic

Offers both medication and talk therapies for students, faculty and their families, as well as referrals to outside providers.

To make an appointment, call (206) 616-2495

UW Counseling Center

Many free counseling, assessment and crisis intervention services for UW students

(206) 543-1240

External resources

National Institute of Mental Health resources on anxiety disorders

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) resources on anxiety disorders


Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff, January 2014

The Mental Health Clinic at Hall Health Center is pleased to announce the availability of free podcasts for you to download.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is an audio recording posted online, much like a short radio show, that you can download to your computer or MP3 player. Podcasts allow you to listen to lectures, interviews, and news on any device that plays MP3s. You can download an MP3 podcast from this page, or you can subscribe to podcasts using iTunes or any other music software that supports podcasting.

Why would someone want to hurt themselves?

The college years represent a major transition period. You may be living away from home for the first time. However, the safety nets that can protect you at home may not exist at college. It is easier for problems to go unnoticed away from the eyes of parents, old friends, and high school teachers.

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