The word STRESS in red

Recent data indicates that university students will face a variety of stressors during the unprecedented fall 2020 semester as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic lingers around the world. According to experts, this stress may exacerbate or lead to increased mental health concerns. It can be especially challenging for students in Hawaiʻi where changing regulations limit activities, access to resources and the ability to travel.

In an effort to reach students more effectively during the pandemic, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) will be offering a variety of services that are free to UH Mānoa students and can be accessed virtually.

Starting September 1, CSDC will offer weekly interactive, educational self-help workshops focused on maintaining mental and physical wellness during the pandemic. The CSDC Fall Workshop Series will address topics such as maintaining healthy relationships and communication, establishing a healthy sleep routine, healing from loss, managing stress and coping with identity and stigma concerns.

During the summer months, CSDC provided similar workshops relevant to mental health as students prepared for the fall semester, which were well utilized. “We had students register for almost all of our workshops sessions during the summer, and participants reported feeling that the information and tips shared were relevant and helpful,” said CSDC Psychologist Alexander Khaddouma.

Workshops during the fall semester will be available to any interested students currently enrolled at UH Mānoa. A licensed psychologist and CSDC staff member will oversee the workshops and participants can pose questions.

Students can register online. In addition to self-help workshops, CSDC will also offer additional virtual support services for students, such as a series of drop-in Support Spaces in which students will be able to register and virtually “drop in” to a group meeting with a CSDC staff member or peer facilitator at a scheduled time. While not considered counseling or therapy, Support Spaces will be geared toward students looking to connect with peers or process their experiences with others in a safe space.

“Our hope is for these virtual educational and self-help opportunities to be accessible, helpful and relevant to our students as they navigate their adjustment to the academic year and the pandemic,” said CSDC Director Allyson Tanouye. Since mental health services such as counseling and individual therapy may be more difficult to access in light of the pandemic, Tanouye reported hoping that these services will help students “develop effective skills to stay physically and emotionally healthy, while also learning about resources for further support.”

In response to the pandemic, CSDC has adjusted services for students and is set up for urgent individual walk-in appointments (with adjustments to accommodate physical distancing), brief solution-focused counseling via tele-mental health, and telephone consultations. CSDC requests that students call to set up an appointment or call before attending a walk-in appointment. Staff will help arrange appropriate services.

Faculty and staff can contact the UH Employee Assistance Program for counseling services at Worklife Hawaiʻi.

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