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How college students can improve their mental health during pandemic

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 20:25:50-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — As college students get ready to start school in a few weeks, some are worried about what the new semester brings.

"I'm happy to be doing it, but it kinda sucks but there's nothing I can do about it. I might as well make the best of it, " said Josh Cloar.

"I've been kinda of confused with everything going on. It's both nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. A little hesitant on a lot of things," said Trevor Bailey.

The start of their college careers comes with many uncertainties and challenges. They'll be faced with isolation, anxiety and the threat of a deadly virus.

"It's definitely weird because I'm not going to be able to get the same college experience that everyone else has got to get," said Aviana Swanson. "Not really going to be able to go out with friends and now all of my classes besides one is online so that kind of sucks. I was really looking forward to meeting new people and doing stuff that I wasn't able to do in rural Minnesota."

Stephanie Hanenberg, Executive Director of Health and Wellness at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, says the biggest issue this semester for students will be the isolation.

"We're trying to make sure we are engaging students as much as possible, not just virtually but in person. So making sure we are maxing out on the amount of things we can do for our students. Bringing them to welcome back events, bringing them to the campus recreation center, making sure they still have the opportunity to join clubs and do other activities," said Hanenberg.

The university will be offering remote Telemedicine appointments for Health and Mental Health. Students can talk with clinicians and counselors remotely and on campus as well.

"We have our full staff that is in the office remotely and we have increased the amount of training we have in here to help our students as well," said Hanenberg. "Those are students in counseling programs that will be seeing students for additional support for them."

The university is thinking outside the box too, trying to come up with creative ways to help students feel connected while staying socially distant.

"We are looking at ways to really utilize the outdoor space so things like Alpine Field which is on top of our parking garage to host student activities. We have seven miles of trail so can we get the students out there on scavenger hunts," said Hanenberg.

She encourages young adults to stay connected, any way they can during the fall semester.

"Having that support is key. Asking for help when they are struggling, instead of having things go on too long and waiting for the semester to be over," said Hanenberg. "We still have student employment so getting employed and connected through that avenue. "

Students are also urged to seek out resources early on if they're struggling. Eating well and getting plenty of sleep helps as well.