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WellSpan Philhaven groups to offer coping skills for college students during COVID

May 20, 2020

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Oh, the joys of college! You have the delicious freedom of being on your own, social outings with groups of friends, late-night gab sessions with roommates and opportunities to figure out your path in life.

Until COVID-19 arrived this spring.

Like most of us, college students now find themselves sheltering at home, cut off from many of those stimulating and enjoyable events and that newfound freedom. Because of that, they face some particular stresses.

WellSpan Philhaven is offering free online support groups for college-age students in sessions being held in May and June. The groups, held via Zoom, will allow students a safe space to discuss the challenges posed by COVID-19 and learn some coping skills.

“This population is significantly unique,” says Whitney Quinlan, a doctoral psychology intern at WellSpan Philhaven who will be helping to run the groups. “College brings about several layers of autonomy and freedom. Whether kids are living on campus or at home, in another state or down the street, the freedom associated with college life that has been ‘taken away’ by COVID feels like a deep loss to me in some ways.”

In addition to discussing coping skills, the moderators of the one-hour support groups will talk about checking the facts of the pandemic and the healthy benefits of positive emotions. They also will give participants a chance to vent and share.

“As we all know and have experienced in the last couple of months, the isolation caused by the pandemic can have a significant impact on our mood and put us in a vulnerable place,” said Kate Hatley, director of the WellSpan Philhaven Day Hospital and Intensive Outpatient Program, who was involved in starting the groups. “That is why the goal of this support group was to provide a space where these college-age students can connect to other people who are experiencing similar issues and identify some tangible tools that can help them cope through this difficult time. At the very least, just knowing that they are not alone in what they are feeling and experiencing can be helpful.”

The groups, which are limited to 20 participants to allow everyone a chance to participate, are not intended to serve as counseling, therapy or as a crisis resource.

The groups will be offered from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, and from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 10.

Find More Support Groups from WellSpan Philhaven