Preserving Students’ Mental Health During a Pandemic


Story by Hannah Plunkett / Contributing Writer

“What we have seen is that the mental health needs of students have increased during the pandemic. Students are struggling during the pandemic primarily with depression and anxiety.”

Virginia Lowery, LPC-MHSP, MTSU Counseling ServiceS

Stressors are high and rising due to the pandemic sweeping the world, leaving chaos in its wake. In light of this, Virginia Lowery at Middle Tennessee State University Counseling Services and her colleagues have provided students with an outlet to alleviate pandemic-induced stress and anxiety. 

The Pandemic Support Group is co-facilitated by two Licensed Professional Counselor- Mental Health Service Providers: Virginia Lowery and her colleague Melanie Magliacano.

Designed with the pandemic in mind, the group is hosted virtually once a week, open to any currently enrolled MTSU student feeling the added stress of the pandemic and in need of support and help.

When asked why this group was created, Lowery said:

…. Students were expressing stress and (being) overwhelmed related to the pandemic and that’s when the need came apparent to us. We wanted to swiftly act upon this need and provide this extra support to students during this time.”  

VIRGINIA LOWERY, LPC-MHSP, MTSU COUNSELING SERVICES

This group was launched in the fall of 2020 by Jessica Gann, LPC-MHSP and Virginia Lowery. After observing a positive response throughout the semester, they were encouraged to keep sustaining the support group. 

Each session is generally a small-group atmosphere and structured as a peer support group. The group is facilitated by two MTSU counselors that ‘check-in’ with the students and present a topic for the group to discuss.

Lowery stated in an interview:

“Students primarily direct the group topic, and we, as facilitators, simply try to provide a safe space for students to process their struggles during the pandemic and gain support from their peers.”

VIRGINIA LOWERY, LPC-MHSP, MTSU COUNSELING SERVICES

The Pandemic Support Group meets on Thursdays at 3 p.m. on Zoom, and students can visit MTSU Counseling Service’s website for more information about the group. They also offer other various groups and resources to students throughout each semester that are designed to help and support students.

Virginia Lowery and her colleagues at MTSU Counseling Services always have the mental health of the students as their focus, and the pandemic has only increased their concern.

Lowery spoke briefly on the mental health of students recently: “What we have seen is that the mental health needs of students have increased during the pandemic. Students are struggling during the pandemic primarily with depression and anxiety.” 

With all the added stress the pandemic has created, they recognize that students need support now more than ever before. The Pandemic Support Group was created solely for this reason and is focused on meeting students where they are. 

Lowery reassures students that they do not have to participate or even have their video on during the session if they don’t want to. After all, this is a support group, so it should not be an added stressor in students lives.

College is stressful enough for students without the added anxieties of a pandemic. However, this is the current reality. Groups like the Pandemic Support Group can help stressed-out college students get through the pandemic and preserve their mental health.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ashley Barrientos, 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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