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COVID-19 Resources for Mental Health

The American University Counseling Center is mindful of the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the AU community. It is not uncommon to feel sad, isolated, stressed, or anxious during this time. While this has been a time of significant change including, but not limited to, disruption to academic and social routines, we remain committed to supporting our students, staff, and faculty through our virtual services and resources. Additionally, we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted certain communities, with an increase in xenophobia, racial aggression, economic deprivation, stigma, and barriers to appropriate resources. The Counseling Center continues to denounce bigotry and oppression in every form and remains committed to providing culturally aware, affirming, and inclusive services for all our students.

The Counseling Center has provided resources below to support the mental health and well-being of our community.

Virtual Urgent Care: Monday-Friday, 2 pm-4 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). Clinicians will meet virtually with students through a secure HIPAA compliant video conference platform for the remainder of Spring 2020. It works with smart phones, laptops and tablets. You can meet with us by going to: Virtual Counseling Center

Due to applicable licensure laws, please be advised that the AU Counseling Center can only offer clinical services (e.g., Urgent Care, Initial Consultation assessments, ongoing counseling) to students who are physically located in the District of Columbia. Students located outside the District will be given referrals to providers in their current location.

The Counseling Center has handouts on the information below on our pinterest page: pinterest

 

Jelena Kecmanovic, PhD shares 7 helpful tips to help cope with the coronoavirus anxiety. Below are some of our favorite tips. Read her full article: https://tinyurl.com/tbz6w2s

Understand what is "Normal"

Feeling anxious is a normal human reaction when responding to a threat. However, the body cannot maintain the high level of stress that comes with high anxiety. Seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Practice Tolerating

The intolerance of uncertainty can make people vulnerable to anxiety. Practice tolerating uncertainty by reducing certaintyseeking beahviors.

Tackle the Anxiety Paradox

It is tempting to try to get rid of the anxiety, but that creates a paradox. The more you fight it, the harder it fights back in the long run. Instead, accept the anxious thoughts/feelings/sensations without judgement.

Don't Underestimate Human Resiliency

The human mind is really good at predicting the worst, but research has shown that people tend to underestimate how well they will cope with difficult times. Trust yourself!

Strengthen Self-Care

Remember, the tried-and-true anxiety prevention is to engage in self-care. Selfcare strategies can include, getting adequate sleep, exercise, practice mindfulness, and employ relaxation techniques.

Social Distancing doesn’t have to be boring!

Create Magic Playlists

Ever heard a song that makes you smile? Some songs can remind us of happy experiences, or the music itself can calm us down. Make a playlist of such songs and listen to it when you’re starting to feel a bit isolated or down. Need inspiration? Take a listen to the counseling center’s playlist on Spotify at AU Counseling center

Schedule Video-Chats with Family and Friends

Make video hangouts a regular part of your day. Schedule them beforehand, grab some snacks or make your dinner, and enjoy some time with your loved ones.

Keep Moving- Dance!

Gyms are out, solo dance parties are IN! No one is watching, remember? Working from home/spending a lot of time in a stationary position can hugely impact your body. Combat this by doing simple stretches, a regular mat workout or a dance party!

Dive into that project you keep avoiding

You know you have one. Did you want to start a small vegetable garden? Organize your bookshelf? Sort your clothes for donation? How many time have you use the excuse “I don’t have time?” Well, now you do!

Sunlight is Allowed

Social distancing does not mean you have to hide from sunlight. Focus on your courses and assignments, but let yourself take breaks and see if those breaks can be short walks or even reading on a patio. Vitamin D is your friend!

Liberate Meditation – This application is designed to empower Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through guided meditations.

Virtual Hope Box – This application consists of tools to help with coping, relaxation, distraction, and positive thinking.

Smiling Mind This application is designed to help people manage daily stress and challenges through mindfulness meditation.

What’s Up? A Mental Health App – This application uses methods from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help people with anxiety, stress, depression, and anger.

CBT Thought Diary – This application utilizes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) principles. You can document negative emotions, analyze flaws in your thinking, and reevaluate your thoughts.

Stop, Breathe, & Think – This application asks you to check in with your emotions and it recommends guided relaxation exercises. This application has free content as well as subscription fee content.

ACT Companion: Happiness Trap – This application helps individuals practice tools from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Use the code “TOGETHER” to try the application for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. Otherwise, there is a subscription fee.

What is executive function?

Executive function is the neurological process involved in helping to initiate and organize in order to achieve a goal. These processes include inhibition, working memory, emotional control, shifting/flexibility, planning/organizing and self-monitoring.

Tips for creating your new schedule

  • Prepare a visual schedule for the week and review it several times a day.
    • Create a schedule for the week including all 7 days and potential work times.
    • Write in scheduled activities (online class meetings, meals, scheduled chats with friends, etc.).
    • Create a "to do" list on a separate piece of paper to fill in previously unscheduled time on your calendar with time to complete work/projects, as needed.
    • Don’t forget to build in time for self-care!

Planning and self-assessment

  1. Break your work up into manageable chunks and component parts.
  2. Decide how much time it will take to complete each component part.Example: writing a research paper
    • Gather reliable sources ([estimated time])
    • Read all sources and take notes ([estimated time])
    • Draft an outline of paper ([estimated time])
    • Write the paper ([estimated time])
    • Review written paper ([estimated time])
  3. Estimate how long you can concentrate on a task.
  4. Build in short break times (10-15 minutes) between each concentrated work time.
  5. Use watches and timers to keep you on schedule!

Managing your space

  • Organize your work space in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Minimize the mess and throw out materials that are not needed.
  • Schedule a weekly time to reorganize and de-clutter your space each week.

Be prepared to adjust!

  • It takes time to get used to a new schedule and routine. Be kind to yourself if you get off track and struggle to stick with it!
  • Leave yourself time to re-create calendars and schedules as needed. Remember to have compassion for yourself as you adjust to your new routine.

Reference

Kennedy, K. R.T. (2017) Coaching College Students with Executive Function Problems. New York, New York: Guilford Press.

Emergency Crisis Numbers

Specialty Groups Support Numbers

Interpersonal Violence Support Numbers

There are many websites that allow you to search for mental health providers based on your location and provider specialization.

Many people opt to use their health insurance, which can cover a substantial portion of the cost of therapy or psychiatry services. If you are using this option, we recommend contacting your

insurance company to ask some basic questions about your plan and coverage.

You can do this in a few different ways:

  • By creating an account on your health insurance plan’s website
  • By calling your insurance company—you can do this by looking for the phone number on the back of your card.
  • If you are a beneficiary on your parents’ health insurance plan, and they are supportive of you seeking services, you can ask them for assistance.
  • If you are on your parents’ health insurance plan and they are not supportive of you seeking services, you may want to look at options you can pay for yourself —they can sometimes offer a "sliding scale,” or reduced fee, for students paying for their own therapy.

Questions to ask your insurance provider:

  • Do I have coverage for services in the area I am currently located? Which types of therapy are covered (e.g., individual, group)? Is there a limit to how many sessions are covered within one year?
  • How much does my plan cover for an in-network provider?
  • How much does the plan cover for an out-of-network provider?
  • Do I have a mental health deductible? If I do, how much is it? How much has been met?
  • Do you require pre-approval or pre-certification for therapy sessions? What is the procedure for getting pre-authorization or pre-certification?
  • Do I need a diagnosis on the receipt I will get from my therapist, for services to be covered by my insurance plan?
  • What is the process for submitting claims for reimbursement if I am seeing an out-of-network provider?