Mental Health During Quarantine

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By Shannon Szefinski
Staff Writer

As the weeks in quarantine and self-isolation go on, counseling professionals say it is important to place an emphasis on mental health. In times where personal interaction is limited, many people may begin to struggle.

Even though students are away from campus the Counseling Center is still continuing to provide assistance and advice through remote communications.

“While it’s normal to feel worried right now, it’s important to focus on the productive anxiety that follows the rules of social distancing and protecting ourselves against exposure,” said university counselor Nancy DeKraker. “Try to be aware of the unproductive anxiety that can send our negative thoughts in a tailspin of what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.”

DeKraker says that living in the moment and appreciating the right now with whoever is around you is one way of preventing a spiral of emotions.

“I would encourage students to take advantage of this extra time that we all have: get that fresh air, move your body each and every day, reduce your intake of the 24/7 news, and try to stay on a schedule with your schoolwork and sleep,” said DeKraker.

For many of the campus community, this has become an especially difficult time with the passing of freshman Jelyn Lee. Lee was an active member of the Sacred Heart community through her involvement in the Dance Ensemble as well as Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

President John Petillo reached out to the university community through email and announced that there will be a memorial service for Lee when students and faculty return to campus. For now, the Sacred Heart flags around campus will be lowered until her funeral in her memory.

The news of Lee’s passing places an emphasis on mental health for not only students, but everyone during this period of self-isolation.

 “Now more than ever, it is important that we connect with our friends and family,” said Petillo in an email to the university. “We are in a time when fear and sadness is natural and can come over us at any time.”

Social distancing and self-isolation does not mean that people should cut themselves off from loved ones, friends and family, DeKraker said. “Mandatory social distancing is when we need connection the most. We all need to feel cared for, especially now; a resurgence of kindness and concern are needed more than ever.”

The Counseling Center is available to assist students via video conferencing. To make an appointment, email Dr. Mary Jo Mason at masonm@sacredheart.edu.  If you are in need of immediate contact with a counselor, call Public Safety (203-371-7995) to connect you with the counselor on duty who is available for around-the-clock assistance.

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