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Image of a girl sitting on the ground with her hands around her leg.
Photo by Imani Bahati on Unsplash (rights-free)

By: Jocelyn Spizman

Between social distancing, quarantining, and the general anxiety from a pandemic, there is a lot of loneliness throughout the world right now. At Emory, all students should feel connected and supported, even at a physical distance. Unfortunately, as upperclassmen students are off-campus, the Emory Helpline, a student-led organization that offers confidential peer counseling, has closed for the semester.

Since the crisis line is unavailable for Emory students I reached out to James Swanson, the Helpline’s Outreach Chair, to share some tips and resources: 

What should we do when we’re stressed, upset, or feeling isolated?

  1. Identify: Think about the things in your life that make you feel happy and healthy.
    1. Is it running, eating well, sleeping, spending time talking with family and friends?
  2. Prioritize: Find time in your day where you can prioritize these activities!
    1. By giving yourself time to feel accomplished, refreshed, and connected, you’re giving yourself the support you need to get through the harder parts of your day. 
  3. Grounding Exercises: Practice mindfulness and meditation exercises.
    1. Just like we need to stretch our muscles to release tension in our body, we need to exercise and stretch our mind to find peace and relaxation. 
    2. Grounding exercises may be a source of calm during times of stress.
      1. They essentially ground you in the present moment and often lead to a sense of calmness.
      2. There are great apps online to help you during these times (e.g. Calm, Headspace, The Mindfulness App, Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, Stop, Breathe, & Think, UCLA Mindful, 10% Happier).
  4. Stay Connected: Use your network and any resources you have access to
    1. Reach out to friends and family about how you are feeling. 
      1. It is easy to feel alone when stressed, worried, or upset normally, and even easier when trying to stay in touch while socially distant. 
    2. Call or schedule a virtual appointment with Emory’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
      1. (404) 727-7450 → Through CAPS, you can set up a counseling appointment or arrange to go to a support group meeting. 
      2. Use Emory CAPS interactive resource site to find a therapist in Atlanta, or outside of Atlanta in the greater U.S.
    3. Contact active mental health support hotlines.
      1. The National Crisis Text Line is a 24-hour texting service to connect you in real time to a live counselor. (Text HOME to 741741)
      2. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is just a call away! (1-800-273-8225)
      3. Reach out to the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) (1-800-715-4225) to be linked with local resources. 

When I asked James if there is anything else he wanted to highlight about mental health as a whole at Emory, he shared a profound and real response:

“As a senior in the college, I have come to realize that  many of us struggle with mental health issues in college. Since many of these issues are not normalized, we can often feel alone in our struggles. I hope it is comforting to know that there will always be a support system for you. Whether it’s through CAPS, an RA, a friend, a mentor, or anyone else, there is someone willing to listen and offer support.”

James Swanson, 21C, Outreach Chair for Emory Helpline

Note: Except for the Outreach Chair, the Emory Helpline team remains anonymous to keep the confidential nature of the line.