Managing Mental Health
To the campus community:
News of a widespread public health concern like COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Our students along with students across the nation are dealing with sudden changes to their regular schedules and plans. These developments can be stressful. At the same time, families and school staff are working to provide the necessary support to their loved ones and students.
It’s completely expected and appropriate to experience fear during situations like these. It’s also important to know how to manage overwhelming anxiety and keep perspective as the situation unfolds. Here are some resources and tips that may be helpful:
- As you experience anxiety, remember that it is natural and normal in situations like this. Also, it is normal to have some level of anxiety about having anxiety (funny how that works). Ironically, accepting anxiety and not letting the fear of it overwhelm you is one of the best ways to manage anxiety. When waves of coronavirus anxiety show up, notice and describe the experience to yourself or others without judgment. Resist the urge to escape or calm your fears by obsessively reading virus updates. Facing anxiety in the moment will lead to less anxiety over time.
- Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can work to stay connected to others by creating group chats with friends and family, talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime, or Call SAMHSA’s free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, if you feel lonely or need support.
- For many of you, anxiety and fears about the coronavirus are compounding symptoms you have already been working to cope with. The coping skills that you have been developing are applicable in these situations as well. It can be easy to forget everything you have learned in times of panic, but it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies that work for you. Skills such as deep breathing and connecting to loved ones are helpful in multiple situations. Focus on what you can control to prevent obsessive, uncontrollable thoughts. Create a routine that has elements of your normal, daily life to avoid an overexposure to news and media that can perpetuate excessive thoughts and anxiety. We recommend limiting your exposure to coronavirus news to no more than 30 minutes per day.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has guidance on managing mental health and coping during COVID-19 for children and caregivers.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has information on travel, media resources, and other research on COVID-19.
- SAMHSA has released a fact sheet that explains social distancing, quarantine, and isolation in the event of an infectious disease outbreak. It discusses feelings and thoughts that may arise during this time and suggests ways to cope and support oneself during such an experience.
People who already are managing existing mental health conditions should prioritize self-care during difficult times and should contact their clinicians if they have questions or concerns. Wingate Counseling Center staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-233-8979 Mondays-Fridays from 9am-5pm. After hours, the campus community can contact Wingate Campus Safety at 704-233-8999 and Residence Life On Call staff number at 980-210-4950. To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Text “START” to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
We’re all in this together and we hope this information can help cultivate perspective and curb anxiety.