Having struck spring break from the schedule, some at WVU feared student mental health would be impacted. Whether or not this is true, the Carruth Center has seen no significant increase in students seeking stress-related counseling.
“We tend to get more students calling in and wanting assistance related to stress and anxiety,” said Morgan Sharpless, interim assistant director of care management and clinical operations at the Carruth Center. “I think it’s about the same as always.”
While one might expect compounded workloads with no extended time to reorganize might cause issues, Sharpless said she’s seen no significant increase in normal numbers.
“March, April, they’re our busiest times every single year,” Sharpless said. “I don’t think a lack of spring break has changed or impacted anything; that’s what our data shows. There haven’t really been any changes in demand of services this year compared to previous years.”
Despite no observable impact, Sharpless was quick to offer guidance to students struggling with increased workloads and upcoming deadlines.
“Take breaks,” Sharpless said. “A lot of times students really feel overwhelmed and they feel like they don’t have enough time in their day to manage everything they need to get done, and so sometimes we’ll work with students on how they’re spending their time and then help them navigate a good game plan related to time management.”
Sharpless said that the classic marathon study session is not so helpful as is traditionally perceived.
“If students go into this kind of marathon study mode, it’s not going to be helpful for them to really retain information,” Sharpless said. “Sometimes students get so stressed when they’re going a hundred miles per hour, and so it’s important to take breaks in order to relax and focus and concentrate a little bit better.”
Emeril Lawson-Ross, a sophomore math student, said that part of what was really getting to him this semester was the inconsistent schedules.
“With all the COVID stuff, being out of class sometimes, and having to keep up with all that, it has been a little hard,” Lawson-Ross said.
Lawson-Ross said that while he has had more assignments this half of the semester, he has still been able to keep up. The secret? Organization.
“It’s just time management, stay focused,” Lawson-Ross said. “Sometimes [for a break] I’ll read, or go out in my garden, work out in the yard. You know, just stuff like that to get you nice and relaxed.”
While he said he had been able to keep up in terms of work and assignments, Lawson-Ross also said that a break in the action might have helped.
“[A break] would have been very nice,” he said. “Just to have a break from this huge — there’s so much work to do, and it would just have been nice to have a little bit of a break and relax my mind.”
Emmalie Munson, a senior English student, said that writing down assignments helped to ease her mind little by little.
“I invested in a planner,” Munson said. “That has helped a lot. Of course there are still things that I miss out on, but putting things on paper helps me to remember that they’re due.”