If you’re struggling to stay on top of your mental health while in college, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 95% of directors of college counseling centers report that the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern - and that was before the pandemic. Taking care of your mental health is a critical component of your long-term stability, so make sure you’re giving yourself the tools and time you need to succeed.
The transition to virtual learning with the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging adjustment for students and staff alike, and with it comes the need for you to take a renewed attitude towards caring for yourself. Now that your education requires you to spend hours in front of your computer each day, it’s more important than ever for you to take time to recharge, walk away from a screen, and refresh your mind. Take a walk, call a friend, play an instrument, read a book, cook a new recipe - whatever it takes to get you rooted more firmly in the world around you after working virtually.
These are unusual times. It’s okay to adjust the standards you set for yourself based on how the world has changed around us this year. You may find yourself struggling with questions of identity, purpose, motivation, and long-term career plans based on these changes. That’s okay. Don’t bottle up these conflicting feelings; instead, find a trusted friend or advisor you can share with. These feelings are valid, and working through them doesn’t make you less poised to succeed in life.
One of the most challenging changes for many students has been figuring out what the new normal looks like. Should you just be working towards your degree as if nothing has changed? Should you be holding yourself to the same standards, mental health and pandemic or no? Hopefully, you realize that these times are different, whether we like it or not, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept that your previous standards might be best met in the long run by being put on hold for the time being. Be kind to yourself. Do your best to do right by yourself in all areas, not only academically.
It may be hard to feel like you’re getting enough social input, so be extra careful to lean on the people that you do have around you. Isolation is the perfect breeding ground for depression and anxiety - it can be all too easy to get sucked into a cycle of negative thinking on your own. Break the pattern before it forms by reaching out to friends, family, a personal therapist, or anyone you can connect with. Though it may feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, opening up allows you to share your burden with others and gives them the chance to encourage you and provide a perspective that you may not be able to offer yourself.
Intentionally building social activity into your schedule can break up negative behavior and allow you to clear out your mind, especially after staring at a screen all day. Call someone you love, share a distanced walk with a friend, or start a virtual game night or book club. Give your brain room to enjoy thinking about things.
Most colleges offer a variety of mental health services for all students. The University of Oregon has successfully transitioned most of its counseling services to an online/teletherapy format and even offers same-day appointments. They’ll get you a free, confidential consultation with a staff member and can connect you with a diverse array of online resources, including a self-care kit, wellbeing assessments, and mental health blogs and podcasts. Even if you’re out of state, the counseling center staff can put you in touch with local professionals to get you the help you need. UO also offers a crisis line and after-hours support. Help is just a phone call away.
Oregon State has also been providing its students with remote services since March. They offer on-call clinic hours, emergency crisis lifelines, and urgent after-hours support. Whether you schedule a virtual therapy session, take advantage of your school’s online resources, or connect with a support group, know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Taking that first step can lead to a world of difference.
Anxiety and depression are insidious, especially when paired with other sources of stress and pressure. It can be all too easy to slip into a cycle of isolation while struggling to keep up your mental stability, so remember that there are resources available to you. At SokyaHealth, we know that depression and anxiety can be hard to overcome, especially in intensely stressful situations like attempting to navigate higher education in the middle of a pandemic. We provide a wide range of services addressing mental health. Our providers can help with psychiatric medication management to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions. We work closely with you and your family to achieve and maintain long-term relief from depression and anxiety. Investing in your mental health is setting yourself up for success in the long term. Help yourself on both personal and academic levels. To learn more about our services and how we can get you the help you need, call SokyaHealth today at (866) 657-6592.