Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students, faculty, and staff from the Ross School of Business have had to adjust to new ways of studying, working, and living. Difficult times can bring about feelings of uncertainty, isolation, frustration, depression, and anxiety, which makes managing mental health a primary concern.
In a survey by Active Minds, eight out of 10 students said they struggled to stay focused on school or work and found themselves unable to stick to a schedule due to the stay-at-home orders, and 55 percent of those students were unsure of where to find help for their mental health. The key goal of Mental Health Awareness Month, observed throughout May, is to provide people with resources and tips if they’re struggling with their mental health.
“We’re dealing with a lot of stressors at once, so it’s extremely important to prioritize your well-being,” advised Julie Kaplan, the embedded Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselor at Michigan Ross. “That usually means learning how to manage these emotions, building resiliency, and utilizing resources as a means to cope.”
Kaplan said she has heard that Ross MBAs have been continuing a sense of community, with mindfulness exercises, workout routines, book clubs, and meetups over Zoom, which she believes are great examples of students coming together to support each other’s mental health, even while spread out across the world.
In addition, there are a number of Michigan Ross clubs and initiatives that students can join. These include the Mind Matters Mental Health Initiative for BBA students and The Comfort Zone, a student-run health and well-being initiative that is committed to building an inclusive community and providing meaningful resources to help MBAs prioritize their wellness.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Kaplan. “We have to focus on what we’re doing to make ourselves feel good, and then focus on those around us and those in our communities.”
Resources at Michigan Ross and U-M
There is an array of resources available virtually at both Michigan Ross and the University of Michigan that students can utilize to improve their mental health.
Virtual Therapy Sessions
Julie Kaplan is holding virtual therapy sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students at Ross. Students enrolled in the current semester can reach out through CAPS or e-mail at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Care Package
CAPS has created a COVID-19 Care Package specifically for students struggling with pandemic-related stressors. The website includes a list of resources students can access for free through the university. CAPS is also offering its regular services and after-ours urgent support.
The Wolverine Support Network is holding group sessions for both undergraduate and graduate students during the Spring 2020 semester. Students can learn more about the program and sign up online at https://www.umichwsn.org/.
Wellness Coaching Sessions
University Health Services is offering virtual Wolverine Wellness coaching sessions. Students are paired with a coach to answer any questions regarding wellness, exercise routines, sleep, and nutrition, along with creating a wellness routine that can improve both their physical and mental health.
Expert advice for safeguarding mental health
Kaplan suggested these tips for safeguarding mental health at this challenging time:
- It’s OK to treat this as vacation time. Take time to relax and do activities that you enjoy.
- Not every day has to be productive. It’s good to have structure, but don’t overdo it. Build your day around a few activities, like exercising and making dinner, and form the rest of the day around that.
- It’s OK to binge-watch. Take advantage of the extra time to catch up on that series you have been hearing so much about.
- Let weekends be weekends. It’s easy to let work and downtime meld into one another right now, so finding a new weekend routine can add variety to your schedule and give you something to look forward to.
- Connect with friends and family when you’re up to it. It’s great to connect virtually, through Zoom and Skype calls, but sometimes old-fashion phone calls are good, too. Don’t feel like you need to constantly be connected either.
- But, most of all, don’t feel pressure to pick up new hobbies and make sure you’re doing things that you enjoy.
Regardless of whether a student is on campus or at home, Ross and U-M are here to offer support.