Counseling Center: Staying Healthy in Uncertain Times

To: Students
Posted: March 18, 2020 at 12:35 p.m.

The Valparaiso University Counseling Center recognizes that during this time of change many may feel uncertainty and fear along with a host of other emotions. There may be concerns that affect your decisions about how to best manage your health and the health of those around you. In an effort to support you we have drafted a list of coping techniques and support resources to manage stress and anxiety. Additionally, as updates continue to emerge regarding COVID-19, Valparaiso University is monitoring the situation and meeting regularly to review local, state, and national health agency reports and assess preparedness plans. Please regularly review the COVID-19 Information website from Valparaiso University to learn of any updates at valpo.edu/coronavirus.

Coping with Uncertainty, Change, and Fear

  • Keep things in perspective. It is totally ok and normal to have some worry about COVID-19 however keeping things in perspective can help to manage this. The fact that coverage is increasing on this issue does not necessarily mean that it presents an increased threat to you or your family. Often anxiety increases when we face new or unknown challenges. All of us have experienced a new or unknown challenge thus we are not alone in this. Reflect on what you have done in the past to support you in times like this and share supportive and resilience building resources with each other via phone and video calls.
  • Manage information sources and get the facts. Looking for reliable fact-based sources and decreasing engagement with fear-based sources. It is helpful to adopt a more analytical approach as you follow news reports about the coronavirus. You will also want to verify information that you receive from family, friends or social media. A few options are:
  • Communicate with your social support system and promote hope between each other. Focusing on routines, schedules and preparedness plans can help decrease distress. Fostering a sense of normality and providing a valuable outlet for sharing feelings and relieving stress. You can maintain these connections without increasing your risk of getting the virus by talking on the phone, texting or chatting with people on social media platforms. Feel free to share useful information you find on government websites with your friends and family. It will help them deal with their own anxiety.
  • Seek additional help when necessary. Individuals feeling they are in crisis during this time can reach out crisis support services. Utilizing online and call-in options helps to reduce exposure. Please review below list for options. If you are feeling you are in immediate danger or crisis calling 911 is an option.
  • Practice Patience and Be Kind. Many are experiencing stress during this time and a little extra patience and kindness can go a long way. Using skills from mindfulness and meditation practices (TAO connect has a Meditation Library to help with this and can be accessed through the link on the following site valpo.edu/counseling-services) along with reminding yourself that people are working to respond to concerns as quickly as possible may be helpful.

(adapted from the American Psychological Association apa.org/helpcenter)

Online or call-in resources

  • TAO Connect – A free to you online self-help resource with helpful information on general well-being, calming your worry, improving your mood, pain management, and several other topics.
  • Counseling Center’s Mental Health Resource page – Includes on and off campus resources, crisis hotlines contact info, and helpful apps and websites to explore
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline – also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service. They are a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, substance use and information service, in English and Spanish.
  • NAMI HelpLine – National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.
    • More information can be found at www.nami.org They can also be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
  • Betterhelp – A teletherapy counseling website available 24/7 at a cost for subscription.

Options for connecting with a Community Mental Health Provider

We recognize that some students would prefer to meet with a community provider during this time as well as several students may decide not to return to campus. If that is the case we encourage you to seek the services that fit your needs. If you need to find services in your hometown there are several options.

  • Requesting support from your insurance company to find an in-network provider list and understand what services may be covered is a way to get started.
  • APA’s Psychologist locator tool can be accessed at locator.apa.org.

Psychology today’s Find a therapist tool can be accessed at www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.