As breaking news alerts explode across the globe concerning COVID-19, psychologists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC), warn the public about negative information overload.

UH Mānoa CSDC Psychologist Kevin Tomita says taking in massive amounts of content from various media can lead to heightened anxiety levels and unnecessary panic. He suggests people limit exposure to media outlets and social media platforms. Tomita recommends incorporating leisurely activities into daily schedules as a way to decompress.

“When engaging in media too much or when talking about it too much we can have this constant state of anxiety throughout the day, and it can lead to these unproductive levels of anxiety and make us do things that we might not normally do,” Tomita said. “So, getting a break from it gives us the opportunity to calm down and to feel better and to not have to overreact to different stimulus…exercise, reading, TV, music, meditation, yoga, anything that makes you feel good.”

Mental health services available

Stressed person

CSDC offers counseling services, workshops, outreach, consultation and training programs for the UH Mānoa community at the Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services. UH Mānoa CSDC Psychologist Alex Khaddouma said the center helps hundreds of students free of charge each semester and wants to remind everyone to be mindful of their mental health as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially if somebody already has a pre-existing condition like an anxiety disorder where it’s already difficult to cope with feelings that come up, then you can imagine a situation like this adds even more stress so that kind of anxiety might get to the level where it feels debilitating or a person doesn’t know how to cope with it,” Khaddouma said. “If you begin to start to feel like things are becoming overwhelming it’s a good time to reach out to the resources that are available.”

CSDC has adjusted services during the pandemic and is set up for urgent individual walk-in appointments (with adjustments to accommodate social distancing) or telephone crisis consultations. CSDC requests that you call to set up an appointment or before attending a walk-in appointment and staff will help arrange appropriate services. There are also resources available for students who might be at risk for suicide or who know someone who needs a helping hand.