As MTSU continues navigating the added stress of a social distancing environment, a variety of free mental health support services are available for university students, faculty and staff.
MTSU’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services housed in the Miller Education Center and MTSU Counseling Services inside the Keathley University Center are both offering remote mental health resources while ongoing university precautions and the state’s stay-at-home order prohibits on-campus services.
A not-for-profit student training facility affiliated with the Professional Counseling Program in the College of Education, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is offering online access to short video sessions on mindfulness, guided imagery and deep breathing, which can be accessed at https://www.mtsu.edu/ccps/covid19-resources.php.
“Dealing with a worldwide pandemic has forced all of us into a time of transition and change,” said Dr. Robin Lee, CCPS director and coordinator and a professor in the Professional Counseling Program.
“But for college students, it can also be a loss of independence, which is an important developmental task at this age. Giving up some of the independence they have established can make this time even more challenging.”
In addition, apps such as Headspace, Calm or Aura can help establish a routine of mindfulness, Lee noted. “We recommend that you plan your self-care by setting aside time for meditation or practicing mindfulness.”
Meanwhile, MTSU’s Counseling Services in the KUC is using Zoom videoconferencing to provide free upcoming one-hour workshops on topics such as anxiety management, stress management and mindfulness.
“We are experiencing a moment in history like no other,” said Dr. Mary Kaye Anderson, director of Counseling Services. “Consequently, we are being inundated with well-intentioned information of how best to cope with this pandemic. All this information is certainly helpful, but it too, can feel overwhelming.
“Sometimes the best resource can be someone who is simply there to listen to how you are feeling. Someone who is there to accept where you are at this moment in time with no judgment, only support.”
MTSU Counseling Services has a staff of professional counselors available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and appointments can be made by calling 615-898-2670. For more information visit https://www.mtsu.edu/countest/services.php.
Upcoming Zoom sessions include:
- Contents Under Pressure: Stress Management Workshop, 2:30–3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22. To sign up and receive the link to join this meeting, email Jo.Christian@mtsu.edu.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Group, 3-4 p.m. Thursdays, April 16 and 23. These sessions are open to currently enrolled students and are free of charge. To sign up and receive the link to join this meeting, email Jessica.Gann@mtsu.edu.
Many MTSU students, including significant population of nontraditional students, work full- or part-time jobs to help pay for their education, so the economic impacts caused by the pandemic can compound an already stressful situation.
“Due to changes in family roles and added responsibilities, students may have a hard time concentrating on their school work,” said Dr. Michelle Stevens, assistant director of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. “In addition to added responsibilities, students may experience job loss, a lack of resources and support, leading to more stress than ever.”
Lee encourages students and the rest of the campus community to tap into the available resources to support their emotional wellness.
“Change is hard for most people even when we are not dealing with the stress of a pandemic. Finding ways to deal with the stress is crucial,” she said. “Establishing a routine, maintaining a healthy balance between work and self-care, and reaching out to others to stay connected can be helpful to a person’s mental well-being.
“Consider learning a new skill or focus on something you may not have had time for in the past. But most of all, give yourself grace and access the resources available to you,” Lee said.
MTSU has posted a link on its main website, www.mtsu.edu, where donations can be made electronically to various student emergency funds and services that support students in need. Donors can specify where their funds go.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)