Work Continues for the Baylor Counseling Center

Staff in the Baylor University Counseling Center continue to serve hundreds of students, despite physical separation, social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates due to COVID-19. (Robert Rogers, Baylor Marketing & Communications)
April 22, 2020

Even with students away from campus, Baylor University Counseling Center staff continue to serve

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By Cameron Barbier, senior marketing specialist, Baylor Marketing and Brand Strategy

WACO, Texas (April 22, 2020) – The work continues for staff in the Baylor University Counseling Center, who continue to serve hundreds of students, despite physical separation, social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates due to COVID-19.

“It is important that we all support one another during this time,” said Brooke Hill-Allen, Ph.D., assistant director of community and diversity programs for the Counseling Center. “Caring for ourselves, our loved ones and our community is a core value of who Baylor has been, is and will always be. We will remain united, despite distance, and we will continue to be The Light.”

In the following Q&A, Hill-Allen addresses the impacts of student mental health, shares tips to help manage stress and anxiety, and explains the resources that students have at their disposal, regardless of their proximity to campus.

Q: What are the potential impacts that working from home in relative isolation can have on a student’s mental health?

A: Fear and anxiety about the unknown can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It is important to acknowledge what you are feeling and identify effective coping strategies for those feelings. Effectively coping with stress will make us, as individuals, and our community stronger.

Stress shows up and affects us all differently. Examples of ways stress presents itself include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health condition
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Q: What are some ways students can manage stress and anxiety?

A: Here are six tips to help manage stress and anxiety.

  • Information is useful—but too much information can be unhelpful. Limit news intake to those outlets that are providing new information and stick to reliable news sources. There’s no benefit to watching the same news over and over.
  • Take the necessary and recommended precautions, but don’t try to “invent” new ones. As with all dangers, the trick is to be ‘careful enough.’ When we try to ensure 100% safety, we get caught up in unhelpful behaviors.
  • Keep up daily routines and make changes only when necessary. Maintaining regular schedules and routines is a good way to keep anxiety at bay and feel normal. Even if some changes need to be made, maintaining the overall routine is helpful.
  • Don’t completely isolate yourself from other people. Fear of contagion can cause some people to withdraw socially but maintaining relationships and social support are good ways to combat anxiety. Even if you are in self-quarantine or mandatory quarantine, keep up social interaction using FaceTime/Skype, phone calls or text messages.
  • Stay physically active. Be outdoors if you can. Maintaining physical activity and spending time in fresh air can help to keep anxiety down.
  • Limit screen time. Too much time on the phone or computer, on social media or websites, can lead to less activity and more anxiety. 

Q: What is Baylor doing to help students cope with these changes and what resources are available to students at this time?

A: The entire Baylor community has really stepped up and is actively working to make as many resources available to our students as possible.

Even though we’re not operating out of the offices that students are used to visiting, the Counseling Center has quickly adapted and continues to provide the quality mental health services to which our students and the Baylor community are accustomed. We are now offering services via telehealth (i.e. phone or video conferencing). We are expanding our social media presence (Instagram and Facebook) and posting resources, tips and reminders about the importance of overall mental health and wellbeing. Our goal through our social media pages is to continue to reach our students, no matter where they are. Often, it’s the little things, like a positive mantra or words of affirmation, that have the most powerful impact.

One of the many teams that the Counseling Center works closely with is the Student Health and Wellness Care Team, whose mission it is to connect students to available resources. This team has singlehandedly reached out to roughly 1,600 Baylor students by phone who’ve expressed concerns or a need to be connected with resources.

The outpouring of love, support and encouragement that I have been seeing on social media from all Baylor departments (Academic and Student Life) has been amazing. It truly shows the strength of this community.

Q: What are the best ways for students to access those resources?

A: There are many ways for our students to access the services that are available to them.

  1. Call the Counseling Center at (254) 710-2467. Anytime students have a questions or concern call us, any of us, and if we aren’t the right department, we will help you get connected to the right place.
  2. Check the University website for up-to-date information regarding its efforts, not only related to COVID-19 but with all things Baylor.
  3. Monitor the Baylor Student Life website for updates.
  4. The Student Health and Wellness Care Team contact is Meghan Becker, director of CARE Team services, (254) 710-7069 or Meghan_Becker@baylor.edu.
  5. Watch for the What’s New BU? email, which is a weekly update about student life events.
  6. Monitor Baylor departmental and student organization social media sites.
  7. Engage with the Bear Care program.

 

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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