April 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily lives so profoundly that it is hard to know where to start when talking about its effects on mental health. The coronavirus fallout has created more isolation and fear than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. As anyone who has experienced or been with someone struggling with mental health knows, isolation and fear are a deadly combination. This situation has exacerbated loneliness, encouraged relapse, forced mental breakdowns and blocked people off from treatments. 

     Yet, there is hope to be had in this situation, and hope remains our only option for getting through. These last few months have tested not only our medical infrastructure, but the collective mental health of people across the globe. Accepting the situation is the first step to get through it. Now, more than ever, it is important that we stay connected as students and members of the community-at-large. Knowing what resources and strategies are available is essential to dispelling fear and remaining healthy. Below is a non-comprehensive list of strategies and resources to remain resilient throughout this time. 

Strategies

  1. Reach out to your community. Despite the challenges of this time, it is important to remain connected and to find new ways to connect with other people. Trying to see the positive in a terrible situation can be futile, but looking for the ways in which people have created meaning and strengthened community despite catastrophe is the only way we can remain resilient. Recognizing that we are all experiencing a terrible trauma, though devastating, is also a reminder of our collective humanity and that we are all connected. It is easy to feel alone, but we are all part of our community, and right now is the time to reach out to old friends, neighbors, classmates and colleagues. Reaching out is an important part of fighting feelings of isolation. 
  2. Educate yourself on the situation. This moment serves as a reminder of where our priorities as a nation should be and who is being hurt the most by this pandemic. It is understandable to feel despair right now, but to make it through this situation, we cannot afford apathy and inaction. According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ+ people are at disproportionately higher risk for COVID-19 because of lack of healthcare and high-risk jobs. Anthony Fauci reported that African Americans are dying in larger-than-expected numbers. It is important to not only educate ourselves and avoid COVID-19 related stigma, but also ensure that all members of our community are getting access to the resources they need. It is important to reach out to the friends and family who may not have access to care or resources during the pandemic.
  3. Volunteer. Despair and anger do not have to be destructive if they are channeled into meaningful and altruistic action. Your frustration is valid and can be used to help other people and doing something with your frustration is a strategy to feel more in control of a frantic situation. With a degree of social distancing, volunteer organizations are providing vital services to the community. In Colorado Springs, Care and Share, Pikes Peak United and Silver Key are just a handful of the many places that need healthy volunteers who can assist in operations.

Resources

  1. Mental health resources: The Wellness Center is continuing to provide mental health services to students remotely. This means students on- and off-campus can schedule and attend counseling appointments for only $20. The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a 22-page guide on navigating and finding resources during the COVID-19 pandemic at https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide. 
  2. Planning resources: While it is important not to overindulge in fear, planning for the worst-case scenario can sometimes release the anxiety around a bad situation. Preparing food, talking with loved ones and family members about what to do in case someone contracts the virus can help reduce the fear of what-ifs. The CDC provides comprehensive guides on what to do in case of contracting coronavirus in addition to extensive checklists of what to keep in your home to stay safe
  3. Grocery services (Colorado Springs-based): Clyde’s Cupboard remains operational for students and has moved to Alpine Express, where students can pick up eight items per week. In Colorado Springs, Care and Share Food Bank continues to provide food for any member of the community struggling to afford groceries.
  4. The Scribe: We are dedicated to providing a voice for students, and we want to hear how you have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the stay-at-home orders, we are continuing our coverage of the UCCS community. While many students have left campus, the reporting on the student community has not stopped, and we want to ensure that all student voices are heard.

This guide is simply a starting place for strategies and resources, and we encourage you to seek out additional strategies. Have you found something that works for you? We want to hear from you—reach out to us on Instagram @uccsscribe or by email scribe@uccs.edu.