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Dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 on society has resulted in increased loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression for many young adults. In fact, an overwhelming majority of college students (85%) are experiencing increased stress and/or anxiety during these difficult times. In these challenging circumstances, students must be prepared with ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Impact of the pandemic on student mental health
Unfortunately, for students that count themselves in that number, the pandemic has made it harder to access mental health care for a majority of students (60%), as financial stresses and uncertainty about the future of education continue. Colleges across the nation have closed campuses and residence halls to help flatten the curve, forcing students to leave their campus communities, friends, coaches, professors, classes, and familiar routines.
The constant fear of the unknown, in addition to a loss of control, has made students especially vulnerable to developing mental health concerns. According to Dr. Stacia’ Alexander, mental health clinic coordinator at Paul Quinn College, this is why virtual mental health services like TimelyMD are so important in effectively reaching all students, no matter their location.
Coping strategies for college students
Dr. Alexander suggests students use these coping strategies to support mental health while away from campus.
1. Keep a normal routine.
Students should keep a routine that mirrors what they would do if they were to continue their studies on campus. For example: wake up at the same time, keep a schedule for classes and studying, eat meals at a consistent time, and stay physically active.
2. Watch nutrition and diet.
What and when we eat can have an impact on how we feel. Maintain nutrition by eating three meals per day and snacking in moderation. It can be easy to eat what you might consider “junk” food during this time but avoid doing so as much as possible.
3. Take a break.
Make time to do things beyond coursework and studying. Go outside to get some fresh air or go on a walk, while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
4. Stay connected with others.
Make an effort to reach out and connect with family and friends daily. Using video calls for face-to-face conversations can help maintain your mental health.
5. Consider speaking with a mental health professional.
If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety, find out what mental health resources are available through your school. Ask if virtual mental health services — like telehealth through TimelyMD — are available to you.
Why on-demand emotional support is a necessity
Although crisis fatigue — a sense of helplessness, an ongoing dread, a desire to simply give up — is not uncommon, seeking help through virtual mental health services can make a difference. Many colleges and universities offer on-demand mental telehealth services to students through partnerships with services like TimelyMD.
With TimelyMD, students can access on-demand emotional support through TalkNow and Scheduled Counseling. TalkNow is a virtual resource that enables students to speak to mental health professionals — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through Scheduled Counseling, students can set up ongoing, regular mental telehealth counseling appointments with a provider who is licensed in his or her state. Sessions can be done via video or phone, whichever platform is convenient for the student. Services provided by TimelyMD are an extension to campus counseling and mental health services. We are working to end the stigma of seeking help for mental illness, and to show students they are not alone.
TimelyMD is focused on supporting the health and well-being of colleges and universities, and that includes both the physical and mental health of students. We are monitoring COVID-19 as we continue to support students across the country. Learn more about our commitment to transforming healthcare in higher education.