One student has expressed interest in the virtual support group so far, according to Patrick Stack. The group would meet virtually on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. if the group is developed.
The Webster Counseling and Life Development staff have noticed the toll the pandemic has taken on students’ mental health.
“COVID-19 is certainly a shared experience contributing to increased isolation, decreased social activity, higher elevations of anxiety and depression, loss of energy, termination of employment and life challenges of biblical proportions,” said Patrick Stack, the director of Counseling and Life Development at Webster.
In order to combat this, the counseling center decided to create a virtual support group for students to meet with each other and licensed counselors. Students will be able to share tribulations they have faced during the pandemic. The goal of the group setting is to help students feel a connection they may have lacked during a time where traditional mental health services might not be available.
“Research informs us that group therapy can be an efficacious method of support because of a shared experience,” Stack said.
And the virtual format won’t necessarily take away from the benefits and connection provided by therapy. The counseling center has had online singular sessions since the beginning of the pandemic, and students have taken advantage of the resource. Junior Halani Harber has been consistently using the counseling center since last fall.
“Having to social distance and stay home has taken its toll,” Harber said. “This was an outlet that let me express my frustration and handle the ongoing pandemic.”
Along with being able to air concerns and stresses due to the pandemic—and its effects on the already stressful school and work—the virtual sessions are meant to help attendees grow.
“Participants will have an opportunity to share their experiences, both positive and negative,” Stack said. “Healthy coping skills will be introduced as effective ways of conquering the COVID Blues.”
Therapy, especially in a group setting, may seem overwhelming, but the benefits are worth it. Harber exemplifies how hard the process can be sometimes.
“I started using the counseling center for the first time in the spring of 2018. I used it for a few counseling appointments but didn’t feel right at the time,” Harber said. “There are several different counselors at Webster. If you try one and it doesn’t feel right, try another. They all want to support you and you should feel safe opening up.”
Despite the benefits and the sessions being posted on Webster’s website, not many students have expressed interest. Because of this, the counseling center isn’t yet able to provide the virtual sessions. They need more people to sign up to effectively provide the sessions.
“We have had one student express interest participating in the support group,” Stack said. “Therefore, the group has not yet developed.”
For anyone interested but not sure, Harber gave advice.
“Just give it a try, you will feel better just being able to talk with someone who cares no matter how small,” Harber said. “It has changed my life dramatically by giving me tools to navigate my life.”
The group, if developed, is scheduled to meet Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on the HIPAA- compliant program Zoom. To express interest in the virtual support group and get the program started, email Stack your name and email.
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Alexandria Darmody (she/they) is the editor-in-chief of the Journal, and a fifth-year journalism major and FTVP minor. She enjoys digital art, photography and Gillian Flynn. In her free time, she makes collages from old magazines and collects stickers to decorate surfaces. She's also a writer for the Webster-Kirkwood Times and involved on the university's speech and debate team.