A student walks into the Center for Counseling and Student Development, located in Umstead. 

Students of East Carolina University may expect to spend more time at home than last semester due to COVID-19 quarantine requiring a shift to virtual instruction. With the newly implied restriction, students who may struggle with mental health issues should be aware of the challenges that may arise.

Licensed psychologist and Director of the ECU Center for Counseling and Student Development, Valerie Kisler-Van Reede, said she wants students to make mental health and coping a priority during this time.

Physical exercise, fresh air and sunlight are the three factors Reede said that can help students during this time. Though it is advised to keep physical distance from others, she said that students should still make a point to emotionally connect with others.

“Be conscious of the need for fresh air and sunlight, physical exercise and emotionally connecting with others and seeking support even while we cannot be physically close are all important factors in maintaining good mental health and well-being,” Reede said. “Developing and maintaining a routine is also critical in order to create a “new normal” that provides structure to our days.”

Reede also suggests for students to stay informed about the situation but not so much to the point it becomes overwhelming. She believes it may cause students to become anxious when checking updates constantly on the virus.

Additionally, Reede said that those who may struggle with anxiety may be able to receive reassurance from checking updated information, while others may need to see professional consultation and support.

“It is important to stay informed as the information about the virus changes, but it is important to do this in appropriate amounts in order to not become overwhelmed. Thus, it is a good idea to make checking news part of one’s routine but doing this in brief check-ins is recommended,” Reede said.

For students that are used to a more mobile lifestyle, Associate Director of the ECU counseling center Bob Morphet suggests finding a way to stay socially connected and stay mentally engaged with school despite not physically going to class.

“Most students are very accustomed to technology and communication through technology. We would encourage students to place a high priority on using technology to establish even stronger social connections which will help with feelings of isolation,” Morphet said.

Morphet encourages students to use technology to keep in touch with friends to make students feel less isolated. He suggests for students to stay on top of their course work to help stick to a normal routine.

“We would encourage students to fully and actively engage in their courses via remote means: study the material, watch any videos, participate in discussion board activity and reach out to your instructor if you have questions or if you need clarification regarding course material and expectations. Again, please be sure to incorporate physical activity into your routine,” Morphet said.

Morphet wants students to stay as engaged with classes as possible despite missing the physical aspect of classes.

ECU counseling will continue to operate but by using phone calls or video-based calls to talk to students. They will also continue their 24-hour urgent and crisis support through their office phone number at (252) 328-6661.

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