By: Zoey Angelucci
In the times of a pandemic, Point Park University’s Counseling Center has done its best to create the capacity to serve all students and their mental health needs.
By catering to students’ anxieties, isolation, stress, and other mental maladies during this isolating COVID-19 scare, the UCC’s team has put all students first through this pandemic.
“What we have been doing unique to this period is to create and prop up the capacity to do teletherapy,” said director of UCC and psychology professor, Kurt Kumler. “But, we know that teletherapy is not appropriate for every kind of presenting concern or every individual. We have also maintained the ability to see people in person.”
It is no secret that this pandemic has affected the mental health of people of all ages. The effects have been drastic. “People are anxious. People are lonely,” said Kumler.
In terms of affecting college students, Point Park University’s dean of students, Keith Paylo has “a number of concerns. The ability to socialize is huge. This is a very big part of the college experience that we are now missing. Isolation is another concern. At many levels, whether it is in your room alone, having to be in quarantine, etc. it is just not healthy to be isolated as a young adult.”
Freshman psychology student, Kiara Laws, acknowledges that the pandemic has made things a lot lonelier. After choosing Point Park for a change of scenery, she concluded that going to school in the pandemic is not as bad as she thought. However, “it is a little bit more difficult not having one-on-one time with the professor or the teacher,” said Laws.
Sophomore SAEM major, Kailan Wendler, has opted to take her classes remotely this semester. As someone who has struggled in the past with mental health, Wendler has done her best to stay on top of things, during the pandemic. “Coping mechanisms I found that help me feel less overwhelmed is to write down everything that’s due. And then I try to have it done the same day as it is assigned,” said Wendler. “For example, if I’m assigned something on a Monday and it’s not due until Wednesday, I’ll have it done by Monday night.”
“Whether we are in the period of a pandemic or not, my answer (coping mechanism) is to tend to one’s own resilience,” said Kumler. “Resilience is our capacity to deal with hardship. Not such that the hardship doesn’t feel hard, because hardship is hard, but to deal with hardship in a way that we are able to bounce back, recover fully and quickly. In order to be resilient, there are some really basic things that we must attend to in our lives. The funky thing with resilience, in terms of a coping mechanism, is it is not about in the moment when you are feeling miserable or anxious or lost, where you have much power to do something about it. When you are anxious, you are anxious. But all of the things that you do every day will make it easier or harder to deal with those moments when they come.”
Both Laws and Wendler shared they believe Point Park is doing good things for their students, in terms of the pandemic. Each is aware of the UCC, but hope for more mental health programs and better outreach for the student body.
The University Counseling Center has introduced different programs to support students. They are heading two Zoom programs focusing on COVID stress and isolation. Each requires no sign-ups. In addition, the assistant director of the UCC created a mindfulness class.
Along with these newly added programs, the UCC offers counseling services both remotely and on-ground. For the time being, appointments can be scheduled via phone or email. Students can contact the UCC at 412-392-3977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at pointpark.edu.