Op-ed: Pay attention to mental health while social-distancing

A letterboard lays against a pink background: it says "self-care isn't selfish"

Story by Charlie Crump/ Contributing Writer

With the major arrival of the COVID-19 virus in Middle Tennessee, most students are being forced to practice social distancing as a result of university and local school closures.

With the MTSU’s closing, all on-campus activities—including, of course, classes—are canceled. This leaves many students with no other option but to continue their coursework from home.

The purpose of this social distancing is to slow the spread of disease by limiting exposure to the public—known as “flattening the curve”—and it is the best measure young Tennesseans can take to protect themselves at this time.

While the self-induced isolation does allow students somewhat of a break from the day-to-day stress that typically sits on their shoulders throughout a school semester, it also puts them at an unusual state of separation compared to the highly social environment that school provides.

The isolation is only made worse by widespread cancelations of everything from sports seasons to music festivals and concerts, which to many serve as stress relievers.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), extended social isolation can have health consequences such as depression and poor sleep quality. With this in mind, it’s in the best interest of students to stay busy in this period. Get a head start on assignments, create art or music, exercise and do anything that can distract and relieve from the stress brought on by this new reality.

Despite how one fills their time, this can be a lonely period for many students, and questions regarding its effect on mental health cannot be ignored. Face-to-face interaction is necessary for the social creatures that humans are, and feelings of loneliness are perfectly natural in these circumstances. These are feelings that anyone can fall victim to, but no one should have to endure.

Current students are lucky to live in a time where there are so many options for communication. Texting, calling or video chatting a friend can make a world of difference to fill the void students may be living with.

Even in a time where it’s safest for students to be kept secluded, no one should have to be alone. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep in touch with friends and loved ones to ensure everyone can best make it through this trying time.

For resources regarding mental health and counseling, please read more about MTSU’s Counseling services, which remain open despite campus closure.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.




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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Ethan Martin
    March 29, 2020

    Absolutely fantastic article. Helps a lot during these hard times. I appreciate the time you took to extend suggestions to help those who might be affected by social distancing.

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