Between being in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, viewing and experiencing racial injustices, watching wildfires take over the west coast, and an election coming up, it’s safe to say that some, if not all, of us are feeling overwhelmed.
The physical and mental isolation this year has brought has made it especially hard on college students, who are trying to keep up with assignments and push for their degree despite what’s going on around and/or inside of them.
If you’re struggling with your mental health right now – whether that be anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, struggling in school, loneliness, low self-esteem – know that you are not alone. I mean, with the never ending threat of getting sick, the isolation dorms, deprivation of social settings, trying to navigate online classes, job uncertainty post-grad, how could we not be struggling?
Struggling with your mental health is no different than struggling with your physical health, except that we don’t talk about it as often because we fear being judged, and therefore don’t ask for help as often. The truth is, simply talking to someone about how you’re feeling can take a lot of the weight off your shoulders.
The upside about being in college and a college town is that we have access to several online and in-person resources that we might not otherwise have. Here’s a list of all the Mental Health Resources that Virginia Tech and the town of Blacksburg have available for students:
- Cook Counseling Center – This is probably the most well-known mental health service at Virginia Tech since its located on campus by Schiffert. This year, Cook has switched over to virtual counseling, which means you’ll talk to someone through a confidential zoom. Call 540-231-6557 or visit https://ucc.vt.edu/cook_connect.html to set up a 20-minute Cook Connect session to discuss plans and options.
- Cook Counseling “Virtual Coping” Online Workshops – Cook has set up online workshops which include things like strategies for managing anxiety, adjusting to college during the pandemic, planning for midterms, and support groups for COVID-19, students of color, first-gen students and more at https://ucc.vt.edu/index/virtual-coping.html.
- Cook Counseling Black Mental Health Resources – This is a directory that leads to websites with comprehensive lists of resources, such as Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men, Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, organizations, books, social media accounts and more. https://ucc.vt.edu/index/Black_Mental_Health_Matters.html
- VT Community Provider Database: This Database allows you to search for counselors by type of insurance accepted, what area you need help in, preferred gender of your counselor, and if you need them to be walking, BT or handicap accessible: https://www.search.ucc.vt.edu
- Virginia Tech’s Women’s Center: The VT Women’s Center provides counseling, support for gender-based violence like abuse, stalking and harrassment, and support for sexual assault, such as information and accompaniment to Title IX meetings, criminal court proceedings and obtaining protective orders. Services are free for all Virginia Tech students, regardless of gender, and it’s located right on Washington St. Call 540-231-7806 to schedule an appointment with a counselor or advocate, visit https://www.womenscenter.vt.edu/advocacy.html or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lotus Counseling and Coaching by Beth Fariello – Therapy and Life Coaching for Individuals & Families: This counseling center is located on Roanoke St. and she specializes in depression, anxiety, trauma and more. I’ve personally gone to Beth in the past, and she is a great counselor – young, hip and knowledgeable! Call 540-695-0250 or visit https://www.lotuscounselingandcoaching.com/aboutme.
- NRV Community Services: Mental Health Services available for adults at NRV Community Services include: therapy, psychological testing and mental health skill-building. Call 540-961-8400 or visit http://www.nrvcs.org/mental-health-services-adults/.
- Healing Tree Counseling: A small, women-owned counseling and psychotherapy center located right off South Main St. They are currently providing counseling online, on the phone, or in outdoor sessions. Call 540-808-3382 or visit https://www.htcounseling.com.
- Online Counseling Services: There are tons of online counseling services available right now, including Betterhelp and Talkspace. I personally think this is a great option for college students because it’s 1) less intimidating/awkward than going to talk to someone in person, 2) you can chat your counselor, that way you don’t have to worry about anyone hearing you over zoom/phone, and 3) the chat option allows you to vent whenever you want without having to schedule an appointment!
- Dorm Resident Assistants (RA’s): Freshmen, even if you have to scramble to hide your bottles of Burnett’s in your room from them, your RA’s really are there to help you. If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed with personal issues, classes, or adjusting to college, you can always go and talk to your RA if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends.
Remember, therapy isn’t something that’s reserved solely for people who’ve endured extreme trauma – it’s for everyone. Therapy is normal, and it’s a great tool to either cope or be proactive with your mental health. Plus, you get to talk to someone about all your worries, problems and drama in a judgement-free, bias-free, and them going and telling your personal information to all their friends-free zone!
Mental health disorders and personal struggles don’t discriminate – they affect us all, regardless of gender, race, if you’re a freshman or if you’re a senior! Allowing yourself to open up to others and admit to the vulnerability and challenges that come with life, especially in college, is a courageous act of self-love.