8 Tips and Resources for Mental Health

Remote and on-campus options for student support, including helpful advice for mental health from Manhattan’s counseling and therapy expert.

-Article by Camryn Holly ‘21 in consultation with Jennifer A. Gullesserian, Ph.D.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic sent students across the country home in early March, everyone has been adjusting to a “new normal.” This is an uncharted experience for all, with each of us dealing with it in our own way. 

As Jaspers return to a new semester in the midst of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to prioritize mental health. While we all will be coping with the new normal in our own ways, and with different degrees of stress and uncertainty, none of us are alone in how we’re feeling. 

In an effort to help students better adjust to the fall semester, Jennifer A. Gullesserian, Ph.D., the acting chair of the Counseling and Therapy department and a licensed psychologist, has offered some tips to support and better manage your mental health during this time.

  • 1. Monitor how you’re feeling

    Campus image of the quad and smith auditorium on a sunny day

    One of the key steps to making sure you’re keeping up with your mental health is self-monitoring and being honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Only you know what your normal behavior and feelings are, and what might be out of the ordinary for you personally. When you notice you’re more unhappy, stressed or worried than usual, don’t be afraid to ask for help and to talk to someone about what you’re feeling. 

  • 2. Accepting where YOU are

    Female student on her bed reading in residence hall

    It is particularly important to acknowledge that your experiences during this time will not be identical to the experiences of others. Know that everyone experiences stress differently, and that you might not be in the same place mentally as your friends, family or classmates. Refrain from comparing where you are to others. Instead, focus on accepting where you are currently and moving forward. You never know what anyone else is going through behind closed doors, even if they look like they have it all together. We all deal with our emotions in different ways, and that’s OK. 

  • 3. Prioritize daily living and hygiene

    Apples and oranges in a bowl

    Prioritizing your physical health is an essential part of maintaining and bettering your mental health. Take care of yourself physically, and there’s a good chance you’ll notice an improvement in how you’re feeling mentally. Make the conscious effort to ensure you’re adequately taking care of your body. This includes but is not limited to: getting enough sleep, eating healthy, staying hydrated, and exercising. All of our bodies function differently, so listen to yours and figure out what balance of all these things work best for you. 

  • 4. Establish a routine

    Gym equipment with student working out in background

    If you’ve never been one to stick to a set schedule, now might be the time to start. A routine will help you establish a sense of normalcy and can help to take away some of the stress of the unknown. While we all have our own habits when it comes to managing our schedules, the new normal might require more focus to make sure you’re keeping up with deadlines while also prioritizing self-care. For example, maybe your morning routine consists of cooking a nutritious breakfast before class, or getting in a workout before you start your day. You can also set aside a designated time in your schedule for catching up with friends and family, which can help break up the time in between classes, clubs and homework. Additionally, adding some relaxation exercises into your nighttime routine, including deep breathing or visualization, can be very beneficial for falling and staying asleep.

  • 5. Connect with others

    Student participating in video chat on a laptop

    While we are all more isolated from the world than we were pre-pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch with people we care about. With social media, texting and video chatting, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with someone virtually. Make connecting with your friends, family and significant others part of your daily routine, even if it’s just sending a simple text to ask how their day was. Remember that while you may be feeling physically isolated, your loved ones are only a phone call or a video chat away.

    Additionally, clubs at Manhattan College are still running this fall. Their meetings may now be virtual, but they’re a great way to create a community with your classmates and meet new people. 

    If you’re a commuter looking to find ways to connect with the college community, you can reach out to Commuter Services and Outreach.

  • 6. Take a social media break

    Female student on the quad wearing a mask and reading.

    With the constant news cycle during a pandemic, social media can be a bit overwhelming. It’s a habit for most of us to scroll through it often throughout the day, but what we don’t tend to think about is how this nonstop intake of information can impact our mental health. Take time to recharge and decompress by putting aside your phone, so you can spend some time outside, be mindful, or do a hobby that you enjoy. This is especially important at night. Try to turn off all screens about an hour before you attempt to fall asleep. 

  • 7. Don’t be too hard on yourself

    Notebook that says Every Day is a Fresh Start

    Going into this semester, whether you are on campus or taking classes remotely, keep in mind that college life will not be exactly the same as it was before. We will all have to adapt to and cope with our new normal, whatever that may look like for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes you some time to adjust to life as a student again. Adapting isn’t instantaneous, and it will happen at different paces for all of us. If you’re feeling stressed about the fall, remember that it is healthy to worry, and that it would be abnormal during this time to not have some worries and fears about the future. Worries are part of being human, a part of our fight or flight response that we have to protect us and help us survive. We are all in this together, experiencing tough emotions and situations to different degrees and moving forward at our own paces.

    If you find you need extra help with classwork this semester, we encourage you to utilize the Center for Academic Success, which is offering both in-person and online services. Its services include peer tutoring, supplemental instruction and writing fellows sessions, workshops, and learning specialist services. 

    If you have a disability, including those resulting from injury or surgery, the Specialized Resource Center is a resource for students, faculty and the College community at large. It strives to ensure educational opportunity for all students by providing access to full participation in all aspects of campus life.
  • 8. Seek support if needed

    Counseling Center door open showing the inside.

    At all times, but especially now, it’s important that we destigmatize seeking mental health support. There is no shame in asking for help if you need it, and there are resources right here at Manhattan College available to you. Whether you are on or off campus, if you need someone to talk to, you are encouraged to utilize the Counseling Center on campus, which continues to be available to work with students during COVID-19. It is closed for in-person, walk-in appointments, but offers support service remotely via phone and HIPAA compliant video call. If you would like to set up a meeting, please email jegan01@manhattan.edu or call 718-862-7394 and someone will get in touch to set up a time that works for you.

By MC Staff