Northwest Missourian Opinion

Whether we want to admit it or not, each and every single one of us has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven't caught COVID-19, your physical health may be following its normal path considering you don't exercise and have a poor diet. Your mental health, however, has most likely suffered. 

Even for extreme introverts like myself, there comes a point where even we are beyond desperate for human interaction. It could only last five minutes, but we need something to direct attention to besides ourselves and the negative thoughts that begin to creep in and terrorize us before long.

There are likely several different reasons one feels the way they do. Per a recent study of nearly 200 college-aged students, 71% of them reported increased levels of anxiety, attributed to a long list of variables. Perhaps you’re worried about either catching or carrying the virus or having it and unknowingly passing it off to a loved one. 

Maybe working from home has you struggling to focus on tasks at hand. Social interaction can be helped by, say, giving someone a call, but it’s not the same as being with friends in person. All this has likely led to folks struggling in school as well. I want you to know, though, that even though it might feel like it, you’re most certainly not alone.

Making friends is hard when your personality is similar to mine, especially for freshmen. Keeping them is even harder. Adjusting to a new environment and having to essentially start life over as a college student, can be a lot tougher than most perceive it to be. 

I’ve always felt it necessary to remind those friends you do have that you appreciate and value them. In this time of blow after blow to our well-being, we both know a small gesture like that would go a long way to make someone’s day or week. Shoot your friends a text, call them up, send them an email — heck, pass them a note if that’s something people my age still do — no matter the delivery method, those willing to stick with you deserve to know they’re loved and appreciated.

As important as it is to let others know they’re wanted, you have to be willing to take that same step for yourself. Northwest’s Active Minds chapter put together its College Self-Care Survival Guide to help out. The organization’s pamphlet lists 10 things anyone can do to help themselves when they start to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. For example, making a list of things they need to get done, unplugging when necessary, even remembering to say no when you need to.

Ben Moran, graduate assistant with Wellness Services and member of Active Minds, said people shouldn’t feel bad for taking time for themselves.

“Yeah, it’s a different world we live in,” Moran said. “What we’re doing is vastly different. Connecting with other people, trying to hang out with friends or do group work, ... it’s just hard.”

Active Minds launched the Green Bandana campaign a few weeks ago to help students keep the conversation about mental health going while doing so in a safe manner.

Moran said he feels for those who are still struggling, even if their peers have adjusted. 

“You really miss what (life) was like one, two, three years ago,” Moran said. “You take that for granted because now it’s just such a different time. There’s so many more things, so many more hoops you have to jump through now.”

As a reminder, please do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help.  Northwest offers counseling services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, both by appointment and on a walk-in basis. Scheduling can be done either online or over the phone at (660) 562-1348. University Police can also be reached 24/7 at (660) 562-1254. There is also a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week crisis line available in Nodaway County and much of western Missouri at 1-888-279-8188. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.

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