Managing Dramatic Life Changes
“The number one issue we see, when there isn’t a virus going around, is anxiety,” said Dr. Jay Coughlin, director of counseling and career services. “When you add uncertainty about the future, the need to learn new technology, or worries about finances or getting sick, the anxiety is ramped up.”
Mental Health in a Remote World
For some students, the inability to get out of the house can add to the stress and increase mental health needs. Fortunately, HCC counselors are offering teletherapy, allowing students to participate in individual therapy sessions from home using a secure Zoom videoconferencing account or by phone. Enrolled students can receive up to 12 personal counseling sessions a year at no cost.
While students might initially feel hesitation about meeting a therapist virtually, some find it easier than in-person appointments. “Our students are very adaptable,” Coughlin said. “Some students love the remote services, because they no longer have to pay to get a ride to school. They can do it remotely.”
“Talking to a mental health professional can really provide some options, support, and potentially relief,” said Dr. Joy Stephens, associate director for mental health counseling. “I know it takes a lot of courage to reach out, and like with any new experience, change can be uncomfortable. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile. Often times the discomfort is necessary for growth.”
To further support student mental wellness and connection, counseling staff are also participating in virtual discussions, posting videos with tips, and offering online resources on topics like how to practice good sleep hygiene.
Above all, Dr. Stephens said, “It’s important to be gentle and kind to yourself. There’s not a right or wrong way to do things in the midst of a pandemic.”
Keeping Up with Career Services
For students preparing for their next job or internship, career services staff are continuing to offer career counseling, resume reviews, mock interview workshops, and more – all virtually.
“We’re fortunate that a lot of our work with employers and job listings were already online,” said Dr. David Tirpak, associate director of career services. “Now, we’re also available to meet with students, alumni, and community members for one-on-one appointments by Zoom or phone.”
As employment and economic effects evolve as a result of the pandemic, Dr. Tirpak encourages everyone to take the time to plan, prepare, and reflect on future goals.
“If you were suddenly unable to continue doing the work you are doing now, what would you do the next day?” he said. “It can be really difficult to imagine, but thinking about this can help to take stock of yourself, what you are motivated by, what you are interested in, what you are good at, and what you can offer the world.”
These types of visualization exercises can be especially helpful in highlighting next steps for people who are not sure of their future direction, Dr. Tirpak said. “It could be a good time to go back to school, pick up a certificate or degree, or take continuing education classes.”
While HCC’s spring job fair had to be canceled in response to the pandemic, some employers with jobs deemed essential under government guidelines are still urgently looking to hire. Employer-hosted virtual recruiting events, job listings, and special announcements are posted in career services’ online job and internship database (accessible at howardcc.edu/career).
Students, alumni, employers, and the community can continue to access personalized career support remotely and make appointments by calling and leaving a message at 443-518-1340.