Coronavirus pandemic can challenge mental health

Counseling is available on FAMU’s campus. Photo by Stephan Symonette

According to the Pew Research Center, 33% of Americans are dealing with mental health pressure. This year has caused society to deal with unexpected changes that many were not prepared for.

“More than half of adults who describe their financial situation as poor have experienced high levels of distress,” Scott Keeter with the Pew Research Center said in a recent report.

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted many people into new rules. These new rules include social distancing. Social distancing has kept many people from spending time with friends, vacationing with family, and doing activities that relieve stress. Alongside dealing with this pandemic many people have had to witness what is occurring in society with racial injustice and tension in America. Seeing videos of people getting murdered can also strain a person’s mental health.

“It’s been pretty hard, to say the least. I have had to take a step back from things I would normally do and take time for myself. I tend to overthink and the isolation doesn’t help. Getting deeper into my prayer life has really helped me get back to feeling secure and knowing who I am,” Florida A&M student Vincent Jones said.

“Having to virtually convert my life to face the world’s current issues was definitely hard to face. As a FAMU student, I feel as though we get caught up in the social aspect of things, so being in quarantine allowed me to face my mental issues, reevaluate, and work out a few things. As far as the social injustices that the black community has had to face in the past few months, it has been difficult to remain calm while demanding an appropriate agenda for our people,” Dorian Stringfellow, also a student at FAMU, said.

While the current times may be difficult to deal with for some, there are things people can do to help their mental health. Dougla-Khan Stancil, FAMU’s mental health professional, says there are ways to help better cope.

“Social distancing is challenging but does not disallow for socializing. Following the rules is imperative; making sure you are wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet away.  Following these rules is difficult and an adjustment. What we have to be is adaptable. If we can’t let go of how ‘things use to be,’ then we will struggle, but when we accept the change and be creative about how to navigate it safely, it becomes much easier, “ Stancil said.

“Find your power. The injustices we have seen for hundreds of years occur in the lives of African-Americans can make us feel powerless, as we feel a lack of control related to the numerous infractions.  The question becomes what do I (we) have power and control over? Once we effectively answer this question and take action, we will begin to feel empowered and likely move toward change,” he added. “They must understand the world is watching and listening and this issue is currently trending, but if they really want change, they have to be steadfast in their mission of arresting power back in our control, if not there will be no sense of progress or resolution.”

If you or anyone else you know of is dealing with mental stress text 741741 to contact the National Crisis Center’s text a therapist hotline.