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Coping With COVID-19: Mental Health Resources

It is natural that a stressful and unsettling situation like the COVID-19 outbreak has an impact on emotional and mental health, even if we are not directly exposed to the disease. The disruption to daily routine, and academic, professional, and personal activities requires an adjustment that can be very difficult at times. 

We have created this page as a resource to support graduate students. It includes:

  • Mental and Emotional Wellness Tips

  • On Campus Mental Health Resources

  • Off Campus Mental Health Resources

  • Tips for Parents on how to talk about COVID-19 with children

**As always, if you experience a mental health emergency, please call 911.** 

MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLNESS TIPS

Please keep the following mental and emotional wellness tips from Graduate Academic Counselor Simone Warrick-Bell in mind as this situation unfolds: 

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media updates. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Consuming too much news can increase anxiety, stress and trigger traumatic responses.

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. 

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy such as listening to music, watching movies, streaming television shows, streaming the NFL or NBA, take a virtual tour of a national park, sing, dance, create art in your own way, or attend a virtual music concert

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. If possible connect with social support via facetime, zoom, google hangouts or other options that allow you both to see each other. 

Tips for Parents on how to talk about COVID-19 with children

For Graduate Students who are parents, these are tips on how to talk about COVID-19 with children via the CDC: 

Remain calm and reassuring.

  • Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Make yourself available to listen and to talk.

  • Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.

  • Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is honest and accurate.

  • Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.

  • Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

  • Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.

  • Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.

  • Discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff.
    (e.g., increased handwashing, cancellation of events or activities)

  • Get children into a handwashing habit.

    • Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and child care facilities.

More Information for Supporting Children during emergencies can be found here

Please consider using the following resources for supporting your mental health during this time. And as always, if you experience a mental health emergency, please call 911. 

On-Campus Mental Health Resources 

Counseling Center

The center began providing most of its services virtually/remotely (no in-person appointments) via phone or teleconference platforms such as Zoom starting Monday, March 23, 2020.

Counseling Services

  • Business Hours: 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. (Monday through Friday)

  • After-Hours Crisis Support Phone Services: 4:30 pm to 8:30 am weekdays, 24 hours/day over the weekend.  Phone Number: (301) 314-7651.

  • Even if you are not an established client, you can call and schedule an intake. 

The Health Center 

Behavioral Health Services

Behavioral Health Services is unable to take new patients, so if you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, they remind you to call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Current patients may contact their therapist or prescriber by leaving a secure message at myuhc.umd.edu or calling (301) 314-8106 for refills or other concerns. Current patients will receive services remotely via phone.

The Center for Healthy Families, Psych Clinic and Psychotherapy Clinic on campus are closed while the university is providing teleservices. 

Live Stream Meditations

Access the Health Center's live-stream meditations on Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am, and Fridays at 4pm. 

Faculty Staff Assistance Program 

The FSAP is open for business.  They are doing telephonic appointments and you can schedule them by calling Tom at 301-314-8170 or Joan at 301-314-8099 and they will get your message.  Alternatively, you can email them at ruggieri@umd.edu or jbellsey@umd.edu.

Off Campus Mental Health Resources

Telecounseling

  • Telecounseling is available via insurance. Contact the Graduate Academic Counselor, Simone Warrick-Bell, and she can help you find a provider who offers telecounseling and would be in-network with your insurance.

  • Private Pay telecounseling is also available through apps such as BetterHelp and TalkSpace. 

Non-therapy Mental Health Resources & Tips

The following online resources provide more tips to cope with life stressors and do your best to maintain your mental and emotional health during this time.

“Managing Anxiety and Stress,” CDC.gov

“Taking Care of Your Emotional Health.” CDC.gov

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf

Coping with Social Distancing 

“Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe.” American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/social-distancing 

Fear and Anxiety

“Free Guide to Living With Worry and Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty.” Psychologytools.com. https://www.psychologytools.com/articles/free-guide-to-living-with-worry-and-anxiety-amidst-global-uncertainty/

Challenging Racism and Xenophobia and Coping

“How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism.” Teaching Tolerance. https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/how-to-respond-to-coronavirus-racism

Mental Health Apps

Numerous mental health apps exist to support and encourage positive mental health practices. Many of these are free, or at a low cost, and are available for download on your device.

WellTrack App (Free for All UMD Students)

Apple; Google Play

HeadSpace

Apple; Google Play

Calm

Apple; Google Play 

Stop, Breathe and Think

Apple; Google Play