Angelika Goldstein, a freshman biology major at Stony Brook University, thought that transitioning to online classes and being home would be “amazing.”
Initially, she loved being home. But as the first week passed, facetiming with her friends became increasingly dissatisfying. Online classes proved more difficult than she thought. And as bulky exams flooded her schedule and professors became less sympathetic online, she started to feel “disheartened” during the transition.
“The silence of my house at night was making me feel paranoid, anxious and stressed,” Goldstein wrote in an email. “It feels as if I don’t have much motivation to do anything.”
Claire Lewis, a freshman clinical laboratory science major and a member of the Stony Brook University Women’s Swimming and Diving Team, said she feels upset that she is now unable to see her friends on the swimming team and practice with them.
“As someone who struggles with anxiety, it was really difficult going from living in my dorm one day and in a matter of days being told that classes were going online,” Lewis wrote in an email. “School would possibly be closed, spring break extended, then school closing for the rest of the semester.”
She empathized with the athletes who are now unable to compete in the spring sports season — and became increasingly worried that Stony Brook University might still be digital for the Fall 2020 semester.
“Hearing everything on the news about how more and more people are getting the virus and the possibility that we might not even go back to school in the fall makes me so upset,” Lewis said.
An article published by the Psychiatric Times argues that college students are likely at an “elevated psychiatric risk,” since circumstances on college campuses right now are “exceedingly stressful and potentially socially isolating” due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Stony Brook University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is still operating virtually, offering key resources for any students struggling with their mental health.
“Students are given the option that makes them most comfortable,” Julian Pessier, director of CAPS, said.
CAPS is offering students teleconferencing through Zoom or phone calls. According to Pessier, more than 577 students have been assisted through teleservices since spring break.
“What all students need to recognize is that a change in our lives that arrives so quickly and is so disruptive is something that affects all of our mental health and that it is okay to not feel okay,” Pessier said. “We are truly all in this together.”
According to the Center for Prevention and Outreach website, simple activities such as coloring, connecting with your peers, exercise, DIY crafts, meditation and healthy eating can increase your overall mental health.
Virtual workshops that teach skills to identify anxiety and ways to cope can be found on the CAPS website. There are also free mental health apps that are available for download that can help users meditate and relax, such as “Aura,” “Insight Timer” and “Moving Forward.” CAPS has a web page that lists similar resources.
New York state is also offering a free emotional-support Healthline at 1-(844)-863-9314 to help residents cope with “increased anxiety due to the coronavirus emergency,” and the state teamed up with the Headspace app to offer more free mental health resources.