Does Your Mental Health Get a “Green Pass?”

by, Jocelyn Visnov, Staff Writer

Each day, Manhattan College students log onto the Glance app and fill out a series of questions. This quick daily quiz is indicative of whether or not you are in good enough health to go about your day while keeping yourself and the MC community safe. The questions pertain to your physical health, but how about your mental health? Would you give your mind a “Green Pass?” 

Mental health has a history of being an uncomfortable, sensitive subject to discuss. The first step to breaking the stigma is starting the conversation. Finding the balance of managing your school work and social life commonly causes some unrest amongst college students. However, when keeping up with current events and dealing with the unknowns and struggles of the ever-changing global pandemic, it’s no surprise that students may be experiencing increased anxiety or lack of motivation.

Students and faculty alike understand that the state of our world right now may be impacting the mental health of students.

“The cumulative effect of the stress can impact our family function, our academic functioning, our occipital functioning, or social and recreational functioning for faculty and for students alike,” Zella Moore, chair of the psychology department, said. 

The decrease of in-person human interaction has led to the realization among many that connecting through your computer simply does not compare to in-person human connection. This applies to socializing as well as education. 

“It’s trying to get those warm interpersonal connections going [with students],” Moore said. “That’s a little harder.” 

Over the course of the pandemic, the “typical” day to day schedule for all students has been altered drastically. Junior Florentina Ondolfo, president of the Psychology Club, shares her advice about virtual learning. 

“I’ve had to learn to be a little bit more flexible with all the online stuff, and I think that everyone should try to keep a more flexible approach to things” she said. 

Social distancing safety guidelines make for less in-person human interaction in all areas of life. Activities involving large amounts of people have long been deemed unsafe, making events like social gatherings or musical performances nearly non-existent. Julia Ettere, a senior psychology major shares her experience dealing with uncertainty and isolation. 

“It’s been very stressful, having this unknown,” Ettere said. “We didn’t know if we’re going back to school, and we really don’t know how long we’re gonna be on campus. I’m graduating this year so I don’t know what’s gonna happen when I graduate. Everything is unknown and it’s definitely caused a lot of anxiety.”

For students struggling to adjust to social distancing guidelines, Ettere suggests relaxing and reaching out to others.

 “I think just putting on relaxing music and coloring is a nice way to tune everything out,” Ettere said. “I’m definitely staying in touch as much as possible. Like today I did a Google meet with one of my professors just to talk about how stressed I was, so definitely reach out to people.”

While it’s completely normal to be upset about canceled events or feel isolated from others, MC has created safe ways to remain both social, and socially distant. The Office of Student Engagement has organized fitness classes, movie nights, and dining spaces which are all outdoor and accommodate safe distancing practices. Ondolfo encourages students to get creative and try something new. 

“Keep an open approach to how things are gonna go and try not to focus on the negatives,” Ondolfo said.

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with their mental health during these difficult times, don’t hesitate to reach out to the counseling center here on campus. Struggling college students often don’t realize that there are mental health resources available to them just a short walk away. To get in contact with someone from the department, go to the Inside Manhattan website, and click on the counseling center link under Student Life. 

Now, Jaspers, it’s your turn. Mental health is just as important as physical health, so be sure to check in on your roommates and loved ones. Let’s keep the conversation going and increase the awareness of mental health all around campus. 

“There’s really a spectrum of the pain we might be experiencing [right now],” Moore said. “But challenges do give us the opportunity to develop more as people.”