WMU creates ‘COVID-19 Task Force’ in response to coronavirus threat

WMU's Sindecuse Health Center.

While it's important to keep the physical body safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also important to keep in mind another aspect of staying well: mental health. 

Many students are finding themselves with anxieties surrounding the pandemic. Worries about falling ill, the safety of family members and isolation are common.

“A lot of the people I know are afraid of it because not only do they not want to have it themselves, but they don’t want to pass it along to somebody who could be at risk of passing away from it,” Sophomore Laura Nicholas said.

The only way to ensure that one doesn’t contaminate others is to quarantine at home, which does not sound enjoyable to Nicholas, she said. 

For those who must take the precaution of quarantining, dealing with all that alone time can be tough. Junior Emma Cunningham has been in quarantine with her three roommates for a week and can sympathize with that.

“Being in isolation has been pretty difficult,” Junior Emma Cunningham said. “We are all in the same situation, so it has been easier.”

Even for those who are well, safety restrictions can put a damper on students’ sense of community. 

“A lot of students look forward to getting together with people,” Nicholas said. “Now that we aren’t allowed to do that it’s hard to find things that are fun to do.”

In addition to the stress of the pandemic, online courses present a whole different challenge for students.

“I’ve been struggling because I feel like I have a lot more coursework now and it’s hard to keep track of all of it since it’s online,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham is also an art education major and relies on that in-person instruction to succeed. Missing class due to quarantine also had an impact on her.

“It’s unfortunate for someone like me with a lot of in-person classes, trying to get everything figured out while missing class,” she said.

Nicholas also said that in-person classes allow for social and active aspects, which is more difficult due to COVID-19.

“In-person classes allow people to talk with other people and to get out of their apartment or dorm room every once in a while,” Nicholas said. “I don’t like being inside all the time and online classes make it feel that way, when I don’t have a class to walk to.”

Feelings of boredom and loneliness are also intensified by online courses and few in-person tasks. 

“The day could go by easily and I wouldn’t even notice that I hadn’t gone outside that day,” Nicholas said. “It can be kind of isolating.”

Here are a few ways to help manage stress according to the CDC:

  • Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.

  • Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy.

  • Take care of your emotional health. 

  • Take breaks from news stories about the pandemic, including those on social media.

  • Take care of your body.

    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate

    • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

    • Exercise regularly.

    • Get plenty of sleep.

    • Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  • Connect with others. 

  • Connect with your community while social distancing. Consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Sindecuse also offers individual counseling services to students who are dealing with mental health issues. Up to eight sessions per year are available to eligible students. For more information on counseling services, call (269) 387-1850 or visit their website.

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