Kinstler: Introducing the “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal

Ethan Kinstler, Staff Columnist

Hi there! My name is Ethan, I’m a third-year psychology major here at Case Western Reserve University, and I want to help you.

For the past five months, I’ve used my “Mental Health Minute” opinion column to talk with you about everything from racial stigma in the mental health community, to strategies for managing and identifying panic attacks and tips for building a support system in the midst of a global pandemic. Now, I have a new opportunity; one that allows you to talk to me directly and tell me about what’s going on, how I can support you, what you need from me or just generally ask questions about psychology and mental health-related topics. 

“But Ethan, how can I access this wonderful resource?” Well, my inquisitive friend, it is my pleasure to introduce the “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal!

I know that sometimes we’re faced with issues specific to us. In these instances, just distinguishing whether you’re sad or if you’re clinically depressed is not enough to give you peace of mind and work through your troubles. That’s OK. That is why I wanted to start the “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal. 

I want to give you a safe space to talk about these personalized issues to someone who knows how to listen and is committed solely to supporting you and helping you get through your troubles in an unintimidating manner.

I know that therapy can be scary and expensive. Admitting that “I’m not OK, and I can’t figure this out on my own” can be an intimidating conversation and we may be unwilling to talk to a therapist—unwilling to talk to “another doctor.” I understand. I’m not a therapist, I’m just your friendly neighborhood psychology major; I’m just a guy who knows a thing or two about psychology, mental health and support.

On that note, the “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal is not therapy, nor is it a substitution for it. It’s a conversation starter. Think of it like talking to a friend who is judgement free, completely supportive and totally confidential—unless you choose to share identifying information. 

I’ve spent the last five months talking to you, and now it’s your turn to talk to me. All I ask is that you do just that: talk to me, tell me about your day and an upcoming exam, that you’re having a really tough time dealing with Zoom school or that you’re scared of long distance relationships. Tell me if you’re sad, confused, scared or moody—just talk to me and I will listen and help. 

There are no issues “too small” to talk about; if something is causing you distress, I want to hear about it.

I want to be like the school nurse for your mental health: a step below a therapist, but still an unintimidating place where you can go to get some help. And, I promise, I will give you more than an ice pack.

This is your one-stop shop for all things psychology. Maybe you don’t have an issue you need help working through, but just a psych-related question. Perfect! Ask me about how behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner trained pigeons to play ping pong (he really did that), ask me about how you can be a more supportive friend, ask me about how psychology can help you win an argument or ask me about tips and tricks for building confidence. 

While I’m willing to answer any psychology or mental health questions, I’d like to reiterate that this is not therapy and I’m not a therapist. I’m just a person who knows a thing or two about mental health strategies. That being said, this is not a place to obtain a diagnosis. I can certainly provide information about different psychological disorders, but I myself cannot give you a diagnosis. 

Moreover, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide or other severe mental health issues and are a CWRU student, please contact 216-368-5872 to reach a counselor on-call, or 216-368-3333 for immediate emergency assistance. You don’t need to consider what constitutes an “emergency”—if you are struggling with mental health, you can call. Alternatively, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, you can call 800-273-8255 to reach the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you’re in Ohio, you can also text “4HOPE” to 741741 to talk with someone at the Ohio Crisis Hotline within five minutes.

You can also use the “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal to inquire about how to access consistent mental health assistance—be it counseling appointments, text check-ins or otherwise—and I can explain some different options and what you can expect. 

My goal is simple: to help as many people as I can in whatever ways I can. But, this is not my “Ask a Psych Major” submission portal, it’s yours. I’m always here in your corner ready to help and support you. You need only ask.

You can submit inquiries or thoughts to the submission portal by visiting the website here. Your submissions will be entirely anonymous unless you choose to share your name, in which case it will still be kept private within The Observer and not shared in print.