Mental health amidst return to campus post-pandemic
Most of us have experienced stress at some point in our life. Whether it be at home, work, or in school we have all struggled with something. College can be a very stressful topic for individuals. It can get in the way of life for a lot of people, and that can cause things to get messy. The Clackamas Print interviewed Stefanie Diaz-Zavala, the teaching and education academic supervisor on campus, to see how students and teachers may be handling stress since returning back to school from the pandemic.
The Clackamas Print: So how do you think teachers’ mental health is dealing with a new influx of students returning after COVID?
Diaz: I think that everyone has returned and they’re eager to return and get back on campus and kind of have a sense of a norm. I think as far as teachers’ mental health is good and positive,it can be a little bit difficult, but harder to kind of see where each student’s coming from. Each student is kind of dealing with their own return, getting childcare and switching careers and things like that. So, I think instructors are doing pretty well.
TCP: How do you think students’ mental health is doing after COVID-19? When everything went on to Zoom, and then quickly flung back into person how do you think students are handling this?
Diaz: I think it’s an individual thing, you know, some students can handle change a little bit easier than others. But I’ve definitely seen some students that have come in with all sorts of different barriers that they’re having to overcome. Families, that’s a big thing, when you’ve just spent the last two years at home with your family, and then having to jump back into school and work and find a sitter. So yeah, I think students are definitely utilizing our counseling services and looking for ways to better help themselves get back to the swing of things. It’s difficult for some students.
TCP: How do you think teachers are faring with the new changes, specifically, when everything went back to in person? What do you think teachers have handled?
DIaz: I think they’re loving it? I mean, there’s a few handful of our instructors that are technical, but most of our instructors, they weren’t used to this whole technology and having to use Zoom and Moodle and all that stuff. So I think most of the instructors are happy to be back on campus.
TCP: Have you ever had any instructors during the COVID-19 pandemic, when everything was shut down, come on to campus to teach an online class over Zoom?
Diaz: Oh, yeah, we’re not all here on the same days. But there are some of us that come in, we prefer to be here five days a week. So I think the same for the instructors too, they come in and utilize their office, rather than having a home office, that’s just how they feel comfortable teaching.
TCP: Do you have any advice for students or teachers with handling any mental health problems on campus with everything returning back to campus?
Diaz: Well, typically, we refer our students to our counselors, our counseling department is wonderful. They’ll sit down and talk to students, individually, and figure out what’s going on in their lives. And I personally encouraged them to come to see their advisor, too. And sometimes it’s just a conversation that just needs to happen to ease their mind. But for the most part, definitely utilize the services that we offer here at Clackamas, I mean, we have great, great services, not just counseling, but all the different departments and[just]getting involved. I’m coming back to campus, I say, talk to your family and friends and communicate with your instructors and utilize those services.
TCP: Do you ever notice students not doing well with mental health?
Diaz: Yes, some students would be visibly upset, and whenever someone is down, I can’t help but to talk to them. I want to know what’s wrong, even if they don’t know me. It is better to let out your emotions healthily than bottling them up, which only leads to lashing out at the people who want to help. If you need help, look around, I guarantee there will be someone to help you; and if not, remember to breathe and put your best foot forward. Maybe check in for counseling. Just let them know that you have some questions for them about the services because they’re going to be the ones that really have the information about mental health because they see counseling really develops a plan for them to follow through and helps them to kind of gain a perspective on their mental health part of it.
When you or a friend are stressing out due to college activities beyond your control you can always look to counseling for help. We have many counselors here at CCC and all of them are free for those who attend CCC. During these counseling meetings are free for students here at Clackamas Community College do not need to worry about confidentiality because these appointments are 100% Confidential. Counseling may be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Front Desk at the Wacheno welcome center. If you prefer to call and schedule an appointment counseling can be reached at 503-594-3176
This interview has been edited for clarity and space.