While I am not a fan of The Grateful Dead, I believe a phrase from Jerry Garcia most accurately describes the pandemic as it relates to campus life and, more specifically, work within The Counseling Center the past year and a half: “What a long, strange trip it’s been!" Kent State, along with campuses across our nation, is moving back to some form of pre-pandemic functioning that includes a notable amount of in-person instruction and campus services. Beginning in the Fall 2021 semester, The Counseling Center will also transition back to providing primarily in-person counseling services with some limited remote, telehealth services available.
As we all move toward the new “normal” of life, it can evoke within us a variety of emotions and thoughts. Students and faculty alike, regardless of how excited they may be for the new semester, may still feel a notable amount of anxiety in coming back to campus. This may simply be in response to our lives changing a bit and our personal schedules having to change or it could be due to uncertainty about the future or even COVID-related concerns. Anxiety may present itself in a variety of ways. For some, they may feel substantially more stressed or maybe irritable. Others may constantly feel nervous and tense, maybe with butterflies in the stomach all the time. Others will find they have trouble sleeping or relaxing at all, even when away from campus. For others, relationships may become strained. Anxiety is different for everyone.
So what do YOU do about it?
First, pay attention to yourself. No one knows you better than you. If you’re feeling a bit out of sorts or maybe you know you are anxious, address it immediately. For some, that means simple self-care will do the trick. What is self-care? Think about it this way: What is that thing that relaxes you the most and makes you feel like you? Maybe there are 2 or 3 things. Think about it…what centers you and grounds you when life around you is crazy? If you know the answer, then the next step is for you to do that thing. It’s different for everyone. It could be reading, exercise, family time, religion…anything! Find your thing and just do it. Make it part of your daily or weekly routine. That may be all you need.
What if you don’t know what your thing is? Or what if you feel you need more than self-care? That’s okay. Most of us are at this point at some time in our lives. If this is you, then you should seek help as soon as you are able to do so. Seeking help sooner rather than later is always best. Semesters have a way of simply disappearing quickly. If you are struggling, don’t wait until half or more of the semester is gone to seek help. What does it mean to seek help? Often that means speaking with a mental health provider. There are several options on campus, one of which is The Counseling Center. Calling The Counseling Center at 330-672-2208 is all you have to do. We’ll guide you from there. Kent State also provides a variety of resources for many different concerns students may have. Please visit www.kent.edu/stepupspeakout for a complete list of mental health resources as well as other campus resources.
The Counseling Center at Kent State will continue to offer individual mental health counseling sessions for KSU students, employees, and community residents. All mental health counseling for students and employees will continue to be completely free-of-charge. With the move back to in-person services, The Counseling Center will also return to its pre-pandemic hours of operation.
The Fall 2021 semester will certainly be one to remember. I believe most of us are looking forward to it, but the new normal may also have its challenges. Most students will sit in a classroom for the first time in over 18 months. Halls will be crowded and bustling. There will be the normal chaos that is the start of any semester, but there will also be an almost unnatural feel to it as well; almost like the first time we walked into a store several weeks ago when people stopped wearing masks. Half of our undergraduates will experience campus life for the first time. For almost everyone it will be exciting, overwhelming, energizing, anxiety-producing, and joyful all at the same time. I’m not sure that any of us know exactly what to expect, but we’ll be in it together and the doors of The Counseling Center will once again be open should you need our services.
Written by Dr. Jason Miller, Director of The Counseling Center.
For more information on The Counseling Center, visit our website at or call us at 330-672-2208.