Student Health and Counseling Services advises students to take precautions and continues to offer resources

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Photo by Antonio Pequeño

Student Health & Counseling Services is located across from the USU.

Adrianna Adame, News Editor

CSUSM’s Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) are providing services to students throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Though SHCS currently does not provide testing for COVID-19, medical staff are focusing on offering physical, mental and pharmaceutical resources, as well information on their webpage with messages and updates of CSUSM’s response to COVID-19.

SHCS advises students to keep following the CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by cleaning our hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and practicing social distancing by remaining six feet away from other individuals.

“We do want to adhere to those stay at home guidance, that’s really really important,” especially if students are showing symptoms of being sick, said Cheryl Berry, the Mental Health Educator at SHCS.

She also advised that students cough into their elbow, wear face masks, and clean and disinfect frequently.

“If they [students] have a fever, or if they have symptoms of respiratory illness and that would generally be coughing or having some difficulty breathing, then they should stay at home and immediately contact their medical provider,” said Berry, “For students specifically, they should contact their preferred medical provider, should they have one, or they may call Student Health and Counseling Services.”

Students still residing in student housing should contact the Director of Housing and Residential Education if they are feeling ill.

SHCS offices, located at 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd San Marcos, CA 92096-0001, will continue to be open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but students will need to have called to book an appointment prior to showing up.

“For our physical building, Student Health and Counseling Services and the pharmacy is open by appointment. However, there are no walk-ins,” said Berry. Though, appointment availability may be subject to change as the situation of COVID-19 evolves and changes.

Counseling services are also available via appointment.

“Students who need to speak to a counselor can call after hours on our phone line, (760) 750-4915,” added Berry.

Once students call the number, they will then be connected to a phone counselor.

SHCS has also posted a crisis list on their website, redirecting students to other mental health resources that they can reach out to.

“Additionally, we do have mental health screenings as a tab on the Student Health and Counseling Services webpage, so that if students are concerned about their mental health and wish to take a preliminary screening for anxiety, depression, eating disorders or alcohol, they can take the screening,” said Berry.

SHCS provided online screenings prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, but students may particularly find them helpful now due to the increasing concern of the mental state during these stressful times.

Berry also shared some tips that could help faculty, staff and students on how to get through social distancing without sacrificing their mental health.

“It’s really important that we have structure in our day, into our schedules, as well as try to incorporate self-care every day,” said Berry.

Berry mentioned three main things that people can do every day in order to practice self-care.

“One would be exercise. If we can increase our energy levels, it helps to improve our happiness. We don’t have to be in a gym. There are now virtual workouts online, things that you can do at home and outdoors- if you’re walking a dog or biking,” said Berry.

“The other thing is to eat healthy, nourish our bodies in a way that has a tremendous impact on our mental and physical health.”

Nuts and dark chocolate are some energetic foods that help people get through long days, added Berry.

Sleep is also vital to maintain good physical and mental health.

Berry said, “If students can get seven to nine hours of sleep, that would be the best thing during this time of stress.”

“Exercise, nutrition and sleep are the natural buffers against stress,” according to Berry.

Students could also use this time to learn a new skill, such as baking, crafting or learning a new language. There are also online museum tours that could help pass the time and keep students entertained.

One of the most important things that students are advised to do is to maintain some sort of structure.

“We want to eat at regular times, go to bed at regular times, rise up in the morning at a certain time and have a time for exercising and working and studying. That brings some normalcy to our day and to our lives,” mentioned Berry.

Practicing mindfulness is another helpful and important thing to do.

Students can access CSUSM Mindfulness through the SHCS website and discover the six various mindfulness programs that are occurring throughout the week.

SHCS is also rebooting Mindfulness Mondays via Zoom, a program led by Dr. Juan Alvarez, a counselor from SHCS. Mindfulness Mondays began on April 6 and will continue every Monday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. up until May 18.

“Mindfulness will help us to be present, it will help us to pause and do some deep breathing and overall contribute to our well-being and mental health and emotional health,” said Berry, “It’ll also help fuel our resiliency as we go on for a prolonged period of time, dealing with social isolation and being able to cope with social distancing.”

“The last thing that I would suggest, is being able to talk to another friend, parent, advisor, reach out our professors, our mentors, as well as the counseling team, so that we keep connection to others who can help us to cope with the ups and downs of life as it is now,” concluded Berry.

For further information on Mindfulness Mondays, check out: https://www.csusm.edu/mindfulcsusm/mindfulprograms/weeklysits.html

For further information on SHCS and COVID-19, check out: https://www.csusm.edu/shcs/generalinfo/covidfaq.html

SHCS contact information: (760) 750-4915 or [email protected]