Every day, the news about COVID-19 becomes more overwhelming: more cases, more spreading, and more people getting sick. This news alone can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. Coupled with the fact that you are transitioning home from college unexpectedly and moving to an online model, this can make you even more prone to intense feelings of stress and overwhelm.
It’s important that you know that it is okay to NOT be okay. Life transitions like going to college and coming home can be stress-inducing. They can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression, whether or not you have a preexisting mental health condition. That is why it is so important to be aware of how you are feeling and seek help if you think you need it. But where can you begin to find those resources in a time like this?
If you are struggling and looking for help, here are 5 resources for college students that you can reach out to right now.
Teletherapy or Online Therapy.
With the mandate for social distancing in effect, it can be difficult to know where to get help. Thankfully, with the emergence of online therapy options like Talkspace and BetterHelp you can now receive therapy from the safety of your home, dorm room, apartment, fraternity or sorority house. Whether you want to communicate via video, phone, live chat or messaging, these services have an option that best fits you. The best part is that you get to choose from thousands of certified counselors across the country. And don’t worry about privacy, as you’ll be protected by federal HIPAA laws.
If you already have a psychologist you enjoy working with, see if they would be open to doing virtual counseling sessions during this time period. I know from personal experience that there are plenty of mental health care professionals that are willing to move their sessions online as a way to be helpful. Plus, extensive research has shown that virtual therapy can be just as effective as in-person, so check this option out if you’re looking for professional assistance.
Crisis Hotlines and Chats.
Finding crisis mental health care might feel more challenging than usual. If you are in crisis, don’t wait or hesitate to reach out to a crisis line, whether it’s by phone call or text. There are a variety of hotlines you can reach out to right now, including:
- Calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They have an option for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can also utilize their website to find psychologists in your local area.
- Texting “START” to 741-741 for 24/7 support from the Crisis Text Line.
- Calling the NAMI helpline at 800-950-6264, who is staffed by volunteers that have mental health conditions that can help provide information and resource referrals to help support you.
- Calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-4357. They don’t provide counseling, but will transfer you to appropriate intake centers in your state.
- Using the Disaster Distress Helpline by texting TalkWithUs at 66745.
- Contacting the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 which has specifically-trained allies to support members of the LGTQIA community.
- Calling the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center at 877-727-4747.
School Counseling Centers.
Almost every university has some kind of mental health center or counseling center that has a mix of counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. Typically, these counseling and psychological services centers offer a fixed amount of free sessions per semester or school year. With all of the changes taking place, I’ve spoken to counselors at various universities who say they are currently trying to figure out how to serve students in a virtual way. Check on your school’s website or give your university’s wellness center a call and see what they might be providing. If they’re able to help, schedule an appointment as a place to start.
Mental Health Clubs and Organizations.
Mental health clubs and support groups are popping up all over the country on college campuses. Active Minds is one of the most well-known, with over 450 chapters in both high schools and colleges. When I checked online, I saw that Active Minds was offering mental health resources and live webinars for students to attend that provide guidance and assistance in these tough times. This could be a great place to get started to find support or learn how you can support others with their mental health.
Your Personal Support Network.
I want you to think about your support group like a warm blanket wrapped around you. The group should be there to encourage you, make you feel heard, validate the struggles you are going through and provide guidance when applicable. You should never feel like a burden or leave a conversation with a trusted member of your support group feeling lesser than, weak or weird. Communicating with the people closest to you about what you’re struggling with is very important. With that being said, talking to a friend or a family member isn’t the same thing as speaking with a professional and should never be substituted for a mental health professional’s opinion.
We are in unexpected times, but we are in this together. You should NEVER struggle alone and you should ALWAYS seek professional assistance when you need it. Whether you’re using virtual therapy options, hotlines, on-campus resources, mental health clubs or your trusted friends and family, find the time to take care of you. It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to not ask for help.