Advice from Sally: Prioritize your mental health

Dear Seahawks,  

Make your mental health a priority this semester. College students nationwide have been facing a mental health crisis since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety, stress and depression are mounting as students are juggling isolation, online classes and quarantine. College students are particularly susceptible to mental health problems as they are entering adulthood during these unprecedented times. Although it is overwhelming, there are some things you can implement to alleviate some of the mental strain you may be experiencing.  


Step away from the screen 

It is important to step away from your screen periodically. A study done on Chinese college students found that excessive screen time was directly linked to anxiety, depression and poor sleep. Since most classes have transitioned to be fully online, it may be hard to find the time to step away from the screen. However, it is crucial that you make time to give yours eyes and mind a break. This could be as simple as reading a book or going for a walk.  


Get some fresh air 

Take some time each day to step outside. According to a study conducted by North Carolina State University, spending two or more hours daily outside was linked to better mental health. The study’s lead author, Matthew Browning, stated that “nearly half of college students were at a severe handicap in terms of their quality of life, education and social relationships because of their mental health during the early stages of the pandemic.” Step outside in between your Zoom classes for a breath of fresh air. You may even consider mimicking walking to your next class by going for a short five-minute walk during your breaks.  



Do not underestimate the power movement has on your mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising for 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week has been shown to significantly improve anxiety and depression. Not only does exercise improve mental health, but it also helps release tension, increase concentration, boost self-esteem and improve sleep. Since the start of the pandemic, many people have become sedentary due to school and work being remote. Be conscious of the time you spend sitting down and try to move often.  


Get enough sleep 

In order to prioritize your mental health, you must get an adequate amount sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours or sleep each night. Sleep plays a major role in mental health. In fact, a recent study showed that for each night of inadequate sleep, the risk of mental health problems increased by 20%. Adolescents and young adults often do not get enough sleep, resulting in an increased risk of developing depression or anxiety. To remedy this, create a sleep schedule and stick to it.  


Utilize campus resources 

UNCW offers assistance to students suffering from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or stress. Students can visit the Counseling Center located in DePaolo Hall to receive therapy from licensed professionals. Due to COVID-19, therapy is only offered online. To be eligible to receive teletherapy, you must be a UNCW student, currently live in North Carolina and complete the required paperworkReceiving counselling is a proactive step you can take to alleviate the mental strain you may be experiencing, as well as protect yourself from future mental health problems. Do not be afraid to reach out to the Counseling Center for help.  


Seahawks, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take care of your mind during these unprecedented times. You are not alone and there are ways to feel better.