Protecting Mental Health During The COVID-19 Crisis
As the Governors State community copes with the physical toll of COVID-19, the university is stressing the importance of emotional and mental health of the impact of the fast-changing condition.
Kristina Wilkerson, PH.D, LPC, NCC Interim Director of Counseling and Wellness at GSU provides valuable insights.
“At this time many of us and our loved ones are concerned about COVID-19. It is not abnormal for many people to find that their concerns and worries are taking on a life of their own, and developing into anxiety.
Pay very close attention to your mental and emotional health and seek out support in your community via phone and web. As a mental health professional, I have come to learn that when individuals are in emotional and mental distress their physical health and immune system then suffer as well.
Here are a few strategies for Jaguars to stay well:
1. Avoid Unreliable Information
The Chicago Department of Public Health offers tips for managing anxiety during the outbreak by navigating an onslaught of sometimes unreliable information.
"We are all overwhelmed with information from various sources, whether that be social media, news outlets, and various other web-based sites. It is imperative that any information that you review is from a vetted, evidence-based site,'' Wilkerson said.
"Please keep in mind that the Center For Disease Control(CDC), health care provider sites, and your local news outlets have vetted their sources and recommendations from health and mental health professionals. So when you are on your social media please don’t take your aunt’s post for granted, but make sure that the article she posted has a vetted, professional reference before you consider it as a reliable source."
2. Practice Grounding
The Depression Project recommends this practice when clients have "gone too far in your own head" and lost perspective. The strategy involves a countdown that forces clients to focus on sensory elements in their surroundings.
"Start by breathing deeply in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Then, concentrate and visualize five things you can see; four things you can touch, three things you can hear; two things you can smell; and one emotion you can feel," Wilkerson said.
3. Make a Virtual Visit to the Counseling Center
"We work closely with clients to manage anxiety and can refer them to community resources for assistance. Unfortunately, due to social distancing we cannot offer in-person counseling, but please give us a call at 708.235.7334 for phone check-ins or check our website at https://www.govst.edu/health-and-counseling/ for important information and resources," said Wilkerson.