By: Lizzy Boudah, Staff Writer
It is with no doubt that this school year will be like no other. Without much warning, schools all over the nation were forced to close and left students of all ages wondering if they would be returning to their campuses. COVID-19 has impacted several colleges over the United States–some opened for the school year using a hybrid method of learning, and some didn’t open at all, leaving students stressed out and questioning the value of their learning in these trying times.
USM has shown and continues to show how their students are being helped during the pandemic. Whether you’re accustomed to the campus in your 3rd year, or a first time college student, you have at your disposal a lot of ways to cope with any feelings you might have. I recently asked Liza Little, the Director of Counseling Services, a few questions regarding student services.
What services are offered during this time?
Liza: “We have all our regular services during this time except they are all delivered via teletherapy using a hipaa protected zoom platform….we do intakes, consultations, individual therapy, group work, medication evaluation, crisis intervention etc.”
When is the best time for students to reach out?
Liza: “The best time for students to make appointments is to call the Counseling Services phone: 780-4050 between 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday.”
What do you suggest for coping mechanisms?
Liza: “There are many coping mechanisms we teach and suggest…I think the important ones include organizing your time, making time for self care every day,…focusing on what you can control and not what you can’t control, learning to meditate and breathe slowly when you become anxious, learning to identify thoughts that are not helpful and how to manage these, talking to friends and making sure you reach out to family when you miss them is also important.”
How can USM be more prepared for students?
Liza: “I think we have learned many things from this pandemic and how to be flexible in our service delivery model and we will continue to offer options to use teletherapy even after the pandemic for students who work remotely and who prefer it.”
Online learning can be stressful for some students whose learning styles are not apprehended as they normally would. When just online, it can be hard for a hands-on learner to stay connected with their class, and absorbing the knowledge might be harder. In this case, I would suggest contacting your professors to see if there’s any extra activities you could do to learn a little easier. Communicating with your administrators can be extremely helpful in any aspect of learning when any concerns arise.
When it comes to global pandemics, it is almost certain that it is something extremely new to us. It is important to remain positive even in the worst times to prevent your mental health from spiraling. Using some of the recommended coping mechanisms that Liza has offered up to students is crucial to keep your inner wellness in good shape, which can also in turn keep you in good shape physically. Through the services offered through the school, one might be able to open up and cope if they’ve lost a loved one to the coronavirus, if they’ve had it themselves, or if someone around them is at high risk. It’s good to not bottle up your concerns and to seek the help you need to stay calm.
If you have any questions, please ask them. Don’t stay silent if it regards your health or someone else’s. A question you ask tomorrow could be one answered for others who were afraid to ask. Remember that we are all in this together, as students, staff, administration, etc.
The contact information for all those that can help are as follows:
- Gorham Health and Counseling (Upton): 207-780-5411
- Portland Counseling: 207-780-4050
- Disability Services Center: 207-780-4706 — through the DSC you can discuss if you can acquire accommodations should any COVID-19 related circumstances arise.
Remember to keep practicing social distancing, maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and others. Wear your masks, wash your hands frequently and stay positive. If you feel any sort of symptoms or come into contact (whether direct or indirect), it is CRUCIAL that you set up an appointment to be tested. Be safe, be strong, be part of keeping the coronavirus away from USM and the nation alike.