(opinions) cook fees

The entrance of Cook Counseling Center, Apr. 11, 2019.

Mental health has been a stigmatized conversation since its conception. It has been widely considered better to shut up and smile than to be true with others and ourselves on how we’re feeling, inside and out. In recent years, talks of mental health have increased considerably, but in a time like this where we are put into isolation for our own safety, mental health has become a concern for many. Now more than ever, we need to open up a conversation to learn ways to help ourselves and others around us. 

While we need to keep ourselves safe physically, we also need to prioritize our health mentally as well. This mental toll can result in more than just temporary depression, but can be the cause of substance abuse and alcoholism. 

While we were vastly unprepared for the novel coronavirus, we were even more unprepared for the impact it has had on people’s mental health. Studies show that only a small portion of the COVID-19 response funding has been allocated toward mental health. Despite this statistic, how can we help each other during this trying time? 

Emily Wilkinson Stallings, a senior instructor in the School of Communication, had insight on the topic. 

“Relationships are what can give us needed care, love, and support; our own basic well-being as a human can come from a close friend and/or relative. This is especially true when we are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Because of the pandemic, people worldwide are feeling heavy levels of stress and anxiety. This is especially true for college-aged students.”

“I hear every day from one of my students here at VT who are feeling worry in the form of anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Uncertainty is the culprit as well as overload of worry and tasks to complete. These overwhelming feelings are shared by peoples of the world and completely appropriate. It is difficult at times to reach out to others, but we must! Remember, those who care about us and we care about are our lifeline; we as humans need relationships: talk, silence together, simply being there for one another is essential for our physical and mental health,” Wilkinson Stallings said. “The best way to remain connected to other humans is what you already know, use the virtual programs that are at our fingertips: Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. Even a call on our phones to those we care about just to check in means a great deal toward our and their well-being. We need each other. This pandemic proves that we are relational beings, not solitary beings. Reach out.” 

For those who feel depressed, lost or alone, know that there are resources for you. Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center is available for students who are struggling, as well as Hokie Wellness and even your RAs. Reach out to family and friends. Take a walk if you need to get out of the house. Prioritize your mental health. Recognize what you need and ask for it. There is nothing wrong with needing help.