Mental and Emotional Coping through the COVID-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has been stressful for many people and communities. Fear about the spread of a novel virus can be overwhelming and cause various emotional responses. Auburn University has been actively monitoring the evolving nature of COVID-19 and has implemented guidelines to ensure the safety of the campus environment.

SCPS Group Therapy Offerings — Fall Semester 2020

Due to Auburn University’s move to remote operations, the following telehealth therapy groups are planned to be offered via Zoom depending upon level of interest. Telehealth therapy groups are only available to students located in the state of Alabama. All potential members must complete a group screening to determine the appropriateness of group telehealth.

At SCPS, our group services are confidential and offer you a safe space to explore your concerns and learn new skills. Research has shown that group members are equally, if not more, satisfied with their services as compared to those who participate in individual counseling. In fact, for a number of issues (e.g., developing communication skills, getting interpersonal feedback, obtaining emotional support, understanding relationship patterns) group is considered the treatment of choice. Please consider talking with your counselor about the unique benefits that group can provide for you.

If you are interested in group counseling, contact Student Counseling & Psychological Services at 334-844-5123. If you would like to see a certain type of group offered, please speak with Dr. Joeleen Cooper-Bhatia, Group Coordinator.

Mindful Eating Group

The Mindful Eating group is a weekly therapy group that provides a space for individuals who have issues and concerns around food, body image, and body shape to learn mindful eating skills, explore beliefs about their body, connect with others who have similar issues, and work to increase their overall well-being. This group is open to any AU student who wants to change their relationship with food and their body. Please contact Dr. Jan Miller to schedule a screening if interested.

Empowerment Group

This group is for any student who has felt disempowered. Whatever the situation, this can be a safe space to give and gain support from others who have had similar experiences. The goal is to provide support and to increase each member’s sense of empowerment. Open to SCPS clients only. Please contact Dr. Brandy Smith to schedule a screening if interested.

Understanding Self and Others Group

Understanding Self and Others (USO) groups provide members with a supportive environment to discuss their concerns and receive feedback from others. Reasons for attending may include having problems in relationships, feeling dissatisfied or unhappy with relationships, wondering about the perceptions of others, and testing out new ways of behaving. Open to SCPS clients only. Please contact Dr. Joeleen Cooper-Bhatia to schedule a screening if interested.

Graduate Student Understanding Self and Others Group

This USO Group (see USO group description above) is open only to graduate students and will allow space to explore the unique issues related to this role. Open to SCPS clients only. Please contact Dr. Kwoneathia Boswell to schedule a screening if interested.

Grief Support Group

This is a support group for students who have experienced the death of a loved one. Whether the loss is recent or some time has passed, this group helps participants reflect on the death of loved ones in an intentional manner. Group members will have the opportunity to express, explore, and process grief in a safe, supportive environment. The group process reduces the sense of isolation and provides a space in which members can grow in coping with grief in loss, accepting oneself, and engaging in relationships. Please contact Carolyn Miller to schedule a screening if interested.

Facing Family Friction

This group is a good fit for anyone seeking to gain understanding about their family dynamics and how they’ve affected the way they navigate the world and relationships. Possible topics/activities include the following: family roles and culture, emotional reactions, identity and labels for self and others, and dealing with family conflict. Special attention will be paid to coping with family stress given unexpected changes resulting from the COVID pandemic. Please contact Dr. Sarah Schwartz to schedule a screening if interested.

Building Social Confidence

This group is for students who struggle with social interactions due to overwhelming anxiety. This group aims to help students increase social confidence and comfort in social situations. The goal of this group is to provide a foundational understanding of social anxiety and ways to overcome these challenges by changing thinking patterns, learning new skills, and practicing with experiential activities. Please contact Nathan Maddox to schedule a screening if interested.

SCPS Drop-in Workshops and Discussion Groups— Fall Semester 2020

SCPS will be offering the following drop-in workshops and discussion groups via Zoom. Those interested can register through the links located at au.bie/SCPSCOVID. All Auburn University students are welcome to attend! Please note that drop-in workshops are not a replacement for psychotherapy, and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Please contact SCPS directly if you are interested in learning about options for therapy.

Solution-Focused Workshop

Tuesdays at 3:00 pm CST

This drop-in workshop teaches you how to use tools and strengths that you already have in a way that is easy to implement in your life. These strategies can help with mood, anxiety, relationship conflicts, low motivation, and the overall feeling that your life is not going the way you would like. Facilitated by Charlotte Windom & Christine Dyas.

Facing Financial Uncertainty

Wednesdays at 3:00 pm CST

This discussion group can help you learn about coping skills and resources that can help with financial difficulties, access to food, money management, and more. Facilitated by Dr. Dustin Johnson & Scott Smith.

Wellness Your Way Workshop

Tuesdays at 4:00 pm CST

This workshop is psychoeducational and focused on mental health recovery. Utilizing the nine dimensions of wellness, this workshop will provide tools and skills needed to promote symptom management, resiliency, and a supportive environment for recognizing the maximum ways to improve the “whole person.” Facilitated by Alisia Hansell & Erica Sotilleo

Empowerment Workshop

Wednesdays at 4:00 pm CST

If you are feeling disempowered in whatever way you define that, use this resource! This workshop is intended to empower you whether you attend once or multiple times, whatever your needs are. Quotes and brief readings will be used to guide each week’s focus, and the goal is to help you feel stronger and more confident. You got this! Facilitated by Dr. Brandy Smith & Kareema Smith.

DBT Coping Skills Workshop

Tuesdays at 1:30 pm CST— BiWeekly

This drop-in workshop derives from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. The overall goal of the workshop is to make meaningful life changes while cultivating self-acceptance. We will provide education in the areas of mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. The workshop will also attend to ways DBT skills can aid in coping with challenges unique to COVID-19 and social distancing, while also discussing ways DBT can be helpful in managing a broad range of emotional experiences. Facilitated by Carolyn Miller & Adria Hickson.

Black Experience Discussion Group

Thursdays at 2:00-3:30 pm CST

This discussion group offers a space for Black students to explore, process, and discuss their concerns and challenges related to everyday life issues, problems, and challenges associated with living life as an identified minority in majority spaces. Do you feel unwelcomed, isolated, marginalized, or boxed in by misconceptions and expectations associated with your race, ethnicity, or identity? You’re not alone. Join the Black Experience discussion group; be heard, be encouraged, be supported, be you. Facilitated by Alisia Hansell & Aja Davis.

Dissertation/Thesis Discussion Group

Mondays at 4:00 pm CST

This discussion group is designed to provide a supportive space for graduate students who are working to complete their thesis or dissertation while recognizing the challenges that can go along with this process. Examples of topics may include how to manage stress, conflict, time management, multiple roles and responsibilities, and other challenges that may arise in the dissertation/thesis process. Facilitated by Dr. Kristee Treadwell & Dr. Alex Hughes.

SCPS Covid-19 Support Groups

SCPS is offering on-line, drop-in discussion groups to assist students in managing adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic and to connect with peers. These groups will allow space for students to discuss reactions to the current situation, including:

  • Transition to remote learning

  • Difficulties with isolation

  • Unexpected changes in living situation

  • Continued uncertainty about the future
  • Effects of the pandemic on academic/career plans

  • Grief regarding changes in important milestones

  • Fear about illness

Any Auburn University student is welcome to join and can register for the group. Please be aware that these groups are intended to provide students with a support and are not a replacement for psychotherapy. Contact SCPS at 334-844-5123 if you would like to talk about options for therapy.

TeleFUN DeStress Zoom Activities

 Join the clinicians of SCPS for tips and tricks to become more relaxed and less stressed during the pandemic. These weekly activities are virtual gatherings that will increase connectedness, bolster self-care knowledge, and most importantly, emphasize having some fun!

All activities run for six straight weeks and occur weekdays at 1 PM, CST. These are not counseling sessions. Anyone wanting or needing assistance from a counselor should contact the SCPS on-call clinician at 334-844-5123. For more information about SCPS services, including to access COVID-19 coping information, online workshops, and other coping skills.

MONDAY: Good Mood Food

Monday, August 24 to September 28 at 1:00 pm, CST

Join SCPS’s Alyssa Clements-Hickman in learning about food for your mood. Participants will learn basic recipes incorporating foods proven to boost people’s moods. This activity is one to eat up!

TUESDAY: Laughter, The Best Medicine

Begins August 25 to Sept 29 at 1:00 pm, CST

Join SCPS’s Scott Smith for a laugh-out-loud good time. Share your favorite funny (and socially appropriate) videos, comedy clips, or humorous stories. Or, if you’re feeling brave, step up to the virtual open mic and perform a mini-set for us.

WEDNESDAY: Color Me Mindful

Begins August 26 to September 30 at 1:00 pm, CST

Dr. Jan Miller will send you some of her nifty mindfulness coloring pages and will spend time coloring with you, teaching you about mindful living along the way. Stay in between the lines. Or not. It’s up to you.

THURSDAY: Clear Your Mind Game Time

Begins August 27 to October 1 at 1:00 pm, CST

Get away and play some games with SCPS’s Adria Hickson. Games like Charades, Pictionary, or Trivia provide an avenue for us to destress and generate positive energy while interacting with others.

FRIDAY: peAnUt Butter & Jams!

Begins August 28 to October 1 at 1:00 pm, CST

SCPS’s Aja Davis would like to help escalate your mood level by jamming out to songs from the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and now! Research has shown that listening to upbeat forms of music increases levels of self-esteem and overall mood.

SCPS AM/PM

SCPS AM meets at 10:00 am each weekday, and SCPS PM meets at 4:00 pm each weekday

Join the SCPS staff each day or evening to get the tools to be your best self! Whether you need a charge each morning or some help winding down each evening, SCPS is here for you!

We are happy to offer Auburn University students open access to our online workshops during this time. Each workshop consists of three 25-30 minutes sessions, which are meant to be done in order as the skills learned build upon each other. Our workshops are designed to help improve coping skills and teach new techniques to navigate through difficult issues. As this is open access, you can disregard the instructions to email for the link to the next session. Currently, we have four workshops:

Online Anxiety Toolbox Workshop

This workshop will help lower anxiety symptoms and increase coping skills. Access this popular in person workshop from the comfort of your own space.

This workshop is a three-session seminar, each session lasting 30 minutes, intended to help increase your understanding, knowledge, and skills regarding anxiety. The Anxiety Toolbox uses a cognitive behavioral framework to help you recognize and manage symptoms you may be experiencing.

Online Getting Unstuck Workshop

This workshop will help increase mood and lower depressive symptoms. Access this popular in person workshop from the comfort of your own space. It includes three sessions, each lasting approximately 25 minutes, that focus on helping participants understand depressive symptoms and build skills to manage these symptoms. Getting Unstuck utilizes a cognitive behavioral perspective to help you develop a plan for addressing your depressive symptoms.

Online Preparing for Change Workshop

This workshop consists of three sessions (bringing awareness, identifying values, and generalizing skills) that are intended to help you learn new tools and get a better idea of what you might like to change in your life.

Online Relationships 101 Workshop

This workshop is a three session workshop designed to help you increase your knowledge about and skills in building and maintaining health, positive relationships. You will be taught how to better understand relationships, increase effective communication skills, manage conflict, navigate through emotions, and set boundaries. The skills in this workshop are meant to be used in all types of relationships.

Below are some tips for using Panopto and additional strategies that can help you cope.

Tips for using Panopto:

  • Sign in using your AU login
    information. If it says “sign out,”
    then you are signed in and don’t
    need to do anything.
  • Placing your mouse over the top right area will give you an icon and allow the video to expand to full screen.
  • Click on “Screen” in the bottom right to access handouts.
  • A “CC” icon is available to access closed captioning.
  • Please not that while the closed captioning is synced to the information on
    the screen, it is not perfectly synced with timing of the audio. You may prefer to mute the audio if you’re using closed captioning.
  • It may be most helpful for you to print attached handouts out prior to beginning the session. The handouts are located by expanding the “Screen” prompt at the bottom right.
  • You can pause or rewind the workshop at any point. You can also repeat workshop sessions.
  • Brief quizzes will need to be completed throughout to continue with the workshop session. If you don’t have any quizzes, you are not signed in. Please sign in.

Additional Strategies for Coping:

  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.

  • Consistently engage in consistent good self-care: sleep 8 hours a night, limit alcohol, eat healthy foods, exercise, drink water, schedule time for fun activities, utilize support from friends and family, and use good time management techniques.

  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.

  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.

  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Use a breathing pacer to help you engage in mindful breathing.

  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.

  • Shift your perspective. Work to move your perspective, which may be negatively skewed, to a more neutral or positive placewhat is working for you, what are you doing well? Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.

  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?

  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.

  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.

  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.

  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

Issues or Concerns about Workshops

If you have any issues, concerns, or problems accessing the online workshops, please contact Dr. Jan Miller at jzm0050@auburn.edu

* Workshops are adapted from materials obtained from California Polytechnic State University’s Counseling Services.

Examples of emergencies or urgent situations:

  • Contemplating suicide
  • Strong desire to harm someone else
  • Not able to guarantee keeping yourself or others safe
  • Recently sexually or physically assaulted
  • Recent death of loved one
  • Having strange experiencing such as hearing voices or seeing things that others are not
  • Recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital

After hours/ Crisis Resources:

  • After regular business hours, weekends, and holidays, a Student Counseling & Psychological Services on-call emergency counselor can be reached at (334-844-5123).
  • The East Alabama Mental Health Center has a toll free number that may be called 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for emergencies (800.815.0630). The clinician on-call will assist you as needed.
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
  • ULifeline is an organization dedicated to suicide prevention: www.ulifeline.org
  • The Trevor Project: A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth 1.866.488.7386
  • Call 911 if you are at imminent risk of harming yourself or someone else. Or, get help from someone who can take you to the nearest emergency room. In Lee County, the nearest emergency room is located at the East Alabama Medical Center, 2000 Pepperell Pkwy, Opelika, AL 36801, 334.749.3411
At this time, all health insurance companies are covering telehealth/teletherapy, including Medicaid. SCPS has compiled a list of mental health providers in the Auburn/Opelika area that are providing telehealth services. For assistance in getting connected to one of them, contact your assigned counselor or the on-call clinician at SCPS during the 8 am to 5 pm business hours. For individuals with financial concerns, low-cost clinical services are typically found at the local community mental health provider (do an internet search for “community mental health” and add your state and county/parish). For Lee County, AL, the provider is East Alabama Mental Health Center.

National Resources

SCPS has compiled tip sheets from various national health and mental health organizations to assist the Auburn Family through challenging times.

Local Resources

A Sound Mind (Created by Auburn University Student Affairs) provides Auburn University students, faculty, staff and their families support for the following:

  • What to expect regarding reactions to a stressful event, such as COVID-19

  • Ways to support yourself during social distancing

  • How to support each other during social distancing

  • Stopping social stigma during COVID-19

  • Student Counseling & Psychological Services crisis phone line information

Auburn University
COVID-19 News/Information Page

Lee County, AL
COVID-19 News/Information Page

East Alabama Medical Center
COVID-19 News/Information Page

Self-Care Resources Curated by SCPS

CALM app
Free resources, including meditations, journaling, and yoga exercises.

Headspace
Free resources, including free app access for healthcare professionals, workforce management professionals, and educators.

Simple Habit
Free resources, including premium membership to those with difficulties making payment at this time.

Quarantine Chat
Talk on the phone with someone else stuck at home.

Sanvello
Free access to premium content with this comprehensive app that has peer support, mood tracking, thought stopping techniques, and relaxation scripts.

Assistance or Crisis

Consistent with Auburn University guidance on social distancing, SCPS will only be providing individual consultations by phone. If you are an Auburn University student and need further assistance or are in crisis, please call SCPS at 334-844-5123 for support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.