Emotional and mental well-being during COVID-19

Good evening VCSU community,

As students prepare to leave our campus, faculty begin to move courses online, and staff begin to adjust daily office activities in response to COVID-19, it is important to be aware of our emotional well-being along with our physical well-being.

The outbreak of COVID-19 may be a stressful time. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. An event such as this may also result in loss and with loss comes a grieving process. Some will experience the loss of trips, events, extra-curricular activities, or other major life events and celebrations. Grief is expected with any type of loss. Grief is a normal part of the recovery process. Our emotions are real!

It is important to remember that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact on a person can depend on the person’s experience, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media. While visiting with others remember to listen non-judgmentally and validate their feelings.

If you have concerns about how someone might be responding to current situations look for changes in their thinking, feelings, or behaviors. Any of these changes may affect their daily activities, productivity at work, or satisfying relationships. If you notice any of these changes, have that conversation with that person. Let them know what you have noticed and that you care. If the stress, anxiety, or grief is affecting the person negatively, encourage appropriate professional help. Valley City State University Counseling Services Offices will be open during Spring Break and during March 16- April 3rd. Contact information and help-line numbers are included at the end of this message.

Encourage self-care and the use of healthy support strategies. What has worked in the past when experiencing stress, anxiety, or grief? Am I doing something now that I wasn’t doing when I was feeling better (increase use of alcohol or other drugs, isolating, working too many hours, etc.)? Am I not doing something now that I was doing when I was feeling better (exercise, reading, relaxation, meditation, sleeping less/more, etc.)? These are questions to ask yourself or others as we move through this pandemic.

Other self-care strategies include:

  • Taking time to unwind. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Preparation without panic. Share accurate information. Fear can be managed to some extent with accurate information.
  • Limit social media time. Don’t jump to conclusions from a headline alone. Stay informed. Be picky about where you get your facts.
  • Allow loved ones to support you emotionally. Discuss ways to stay connected with your support system (family, friends, colleagues) while you may be off campus. Start a group social media page that includes positive and forward-thinking messages.
  • Be reasonably prepared. Enough said on that one😊. Set a plan for what you will do if the virus comes to our community or if you get sick yourself.
  • Find a way to self-care in a way that’s truly by yourself. Don’t shut out connections to others entirely, however, we often self-regulate when we have time alone.
Changes to watch for in children:
  • Crying and irritation
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Changes in school performance
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Avoidance of activities, school, etc.
Ways to support children:
  • Take time to visit with them. Depending on developmental age, the answers may be simple and an opportunity to teach overall wellness.
  • This is a time to review basic hygiene and healthy lifestyles.
  • Monitor television and social media viewing.
  • Maintain a normal routine as much as possible.
  • Be honest and accurate with information you may share~ educate yourself. Follow the child’s lead- may not need in-depth explanation but rather assurance that they are okay.
  • Acknowledge their fears and make yourself available for any of their questions or concerns.
  • Be a role model- take breaks yourself, get quality sleep, exercise, and eat well.
Counseling Services Offices will be open during regular hours. Kelsie Carter, MS; LPC and I will be on campus between 7:45-4:30 M-F. You may email either of us to set up an appointment Kelsie.carter@vcsu.edu or erin.klingenberg@vcsu.edu; phone 701.845-7427 or 701.845-7424 or stop by the offices McFarland 425 or McFarland 424 for a visit.

If you need assistance outside of office hours, please contact the 24-hour hotline 1.800.273-8255 or 211 or text HELLO to 741741.
References include in part: Mental Health First Aid- USA; SAMHSA; NASP; CDC

Make it a good week.

Erin Klingenberg, PhD; LPCC; NCC-BC
Director of Counseling Services and Psychology Professor
Valley City State University

Office Information

Greg Vanney
Director of Marketing and Communications

Mailing Address
Valley City State University
101 College St SW
Valley City ND 58072
Office Location
McFarland 208A

Office Hours
Academic Year
7:45 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.