Isolation, quarantine and the uncertainty of COVID-19 negatively impact individual mental health and increase stress and anxiety. According to the CDC, stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic can cause the following mental health concerns: fear and worry about individual health as well as the health of loved ones; changes in sleep or eating patterns; difficulty in sleeping or concentrating; worsening of chronic health problems; worsening of mental health conditions; and increased alcohol or substance abuse. Institutions should provide mental health support for students, faculty, and staff.
Provide mental health support for students, faculty and staff
1. Clearly communicate the availability and benefits of campus-based social and emotional support services.
Address your institution’s unique campus climate and culture by
focusing campus reopening plans on creating a positive learning
environment and cultivating the mental health of all students,
faculty and staff.
2. Enlist campus and community partners to provide mental health support services, especially if counselors are not available on campus.
Share: Communicate free resources for people without insurance coverage for mental health services.
Partner: Improve campus partners’ ability to provide telehealth services.
Learn: Consult the
American Psychiatric Association’s toolkit for
telehealth needs. Stay current on the evolving restrictions
on telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Identify and address potential risks to mental health and wellness.
Partner: Partner with mental health professionals and agencies to identify the potential risks students, faculty and staff may be facing in light of COVID-19.
Plan: Involve the mental health community in planning to reopen institutions. Explore they can offer telehealth options to students, faculty and staff at low or no cost.
Communicate: Create public service announcements
regarding mental health services and risks.
Communicate options through campus-wide email, social media,
posters and campus newspapers.
4. Create a health and wellness plan for students, faculty and staff related to the ongoing process of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Include: Engage faculty, staff and students in the reopening planning process to foster feelings of inclusion and to share innovative ideas.
Share: Build a virtual resource library. Include resources like short videos, “how-to” articles, printable posters and brochures.Communicate its availability.
Check: Consider conducting periodic wellness checks, like climate surveys, that seek to uncover potential mental health issues.