NDMU Counseling Services Mental Health During Pandemic

By Mylaika Stephenson

Anxiety and Depressive disorders in adult Americans have skyrocketed by 30% since 2019, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The coronavirus pandemic has brought more attention to the mental health crisis taking place in the United States. Many have faced more difficulty with their mental health due to isolation, the loss of loved ones to COVID-19, and anxiety around the virus.

The counseling center at NDMU uses teletherapy/telehealth to carry out their services. This means that clients and counselors are meeting virtually through Zoom. This is one of the most important ways the counseling center is taking precaution toward COVID-19.

Elizabeth Scott, Assistant Director of Counseling Services, explained what teletherapy has been like for students and counselors. “Teletherapy seems to make therapy more accessible and convenient for many of our students, while maintaining the same quality of therapy and relationship between student and counselor! Although therapists miss seeing students in person, in many ways the increased access and flexibility from using telehealth seems to be easier.”

The counseling center has also adapted to the pandemic by creating more resources for students. They have a therapy group called Sister Circle where members, who are women of color, can discuss the everyday struggles faced as a minority, which is important because of the disproportionate rate people of color are being affected by the pandemic.  The center has recently created a “ Coping with COVID” virtual support group. They have offered counseling in the Summer of 2020, as well, to be an extra support to students, even if they weren’t taking courses at the time.

The NDMU Counseling Center is open to Women’s College and Graduate students. The mental health of this age group is being hit the hardest due to COVID-19.

Covid has generally had a negative impact on the mental health of students. Smith explains, “While some students enjoy the flexibility of doing more things remotely, whether school, work or teletherapy, in general there have been negative impacts due to increased isolation, health anxiety or concerns, concern for family members, or isolating at home with family dynamics that may be challenging while other outlets have been taken away.”

Though there are obvious stressors and obstacles due to the pandemic. There are ways to maintain and improve your mental health. Here are some tips from the assistant director of the counseling services:

  • therapy
  • connecting with safe loved ones
  •  deep breathing
  •  exercise/taking walks, meditation, yoga
  • spending time in nature, taking breaks from screen time/news
  • creative expression (singing, dancing, painting, etc.)
  • getting 8 hours of sleep and eating nutrient dense food
  •  engaging in spiritual practices you feel connected

The Counseling Center Website can be accessed through Brightspace under the tab “Resources for Success”. Once you get on to the website there are variety of online resources that can help with any problems a person may be facing such as alcohol and substances, anger management, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, need for a crisis hotline, cultural issues, depression, eating disorders, traumatic events, stress, and so much more. If you feel you need help with any of the following, reach out to the counseling center sooner rather than later.

Mental health concerns have grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. NDMU works to combat this growing statistic by making counseling and support groups available.

Photo Courtesy of Kaiser Family Foundation

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