March 20: To Students from Dr. Relin

March 20, 2020

Dear Students—

You have very much been in my thoughts over these past few days and weeks, and I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. As we hunker down and avoid unnecessary contact with others, this crisis has and will continue to challenge our typical notions of how to care for ourselves and give and receive care from others.

My colleagues and I at the Counseling Center are used to meeting with many of you on a regular basis and being the primary mental health care providers for all students while you are living on campus. With it being unclear when our campus will reopen, we are going to need to transition to finding ways for you to receive a similar degree of care and support while at home.

Regrettably, due to licensing laws and limitations in our scope of practice, we will not be able to function as your primary mental health care providers while campus remains closed. We will, however, be available to consult via Zoom, phone, or email with both you and your parents/guardians as needed. This will allow us to have some degree of contact with you and to have solution-focused conversations that are geared towards helping you locate mental health resources online and in your community. If you are interested in connecting in this way with a counselor, you can email us directly (jrelin@deerfield.edu, swatson@deerfield.edu, srosenthal@deerfield.edu, or ckowens@deerfield.edu) or use our generic counseling@deerfield.edu account. In the upcoming weeks, we will also be focusing on creating helpful and supportive video and text-based content for the community at large.

If you have an on-going relationship with one of our counselors (including Lily B. Perkins, LICSW) and were scheduled to resume counseling sessions after March Break, please anticipate hearing directly from that person in the coming days. Please also feel free to reach out to us at any point, too (especially if you were expecting an email but haven’t received one).

If you have an on-going relationship with Ms. Eileen Hirsch, our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, please anticipate hearing from Ms. Hirsch and the Health Center in the coming days with information and guidance for transitioning your care to a home provider.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, PLEASE utilize one of the following resources.

  • Call or text theDisaster Distress Helpline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to disasters and infectious disease outbreaks. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800 273 8255
  • Text the Crisis Text Line– text Talk or HOME to 741741
  • Call 911

With the closure of the Chen Center, we will not be maintaining our typical 24/7 crisis coverage. If you are in crisis, please DO NOT email a Deerfield counselor, because we may not see it for several hours.

Ms. Owens, Dr. Watson, Ms. Rosenthal, and I all look forward to continuing to be in contact with you, both through one-to-one consulting conversations and in broader communications with the community as a whole. Social distancing is a critical step towards combating this virus and caring for the most vulnerable members of our community, but it will also inevitably challenge our ability to maintain our sense of balance, and we will all be tasked to find new ways to manage difficult thoughts and emotions. I encourage you to take your mental and emotional health seriously, and to tend to it with intention. Included in this letter is a list of links to articles and resources with ideas that I think you might find helpful. Please take a few moments to click on a few of the links for ideas and inspiration related to caring for your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Despite the necessity of social distancing, I want to encourage us all to remain connected and caring in what ways that we can. Find ways to stay in meaningful contact with your family, your friends, your teachers, and your neighbors, and in doing so, see if you can find ways to both offer and accept support and connection. If we can treat ourselves and each other with kindness and attention, it can only help us to all stay strong and inspired together.

Sincerely,

Joshua Relin, Psy.D.

Director of Counseling

Mental Health and Wellbeing in This Moment of Coronavirus

For Students:

How to Avoid Feeling Defeated in Today’s Crazy World: The title says it all…

Protecting Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty: Some really helpful tips and resources for staying connected to what helps you feel safe, connected, and as much in the present moment as possible. There are also good resources towards the bottom of the page for if you’re feeling alone and struggling.

For Parents/Guardians:

How School Closures Can Strengthen Your Family: A great article from the Greater Good Science Center with ideas for approaching how to structure your time as a family and how to make the most of this sudden increase in shared time and space.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress in the Age of Coronavirus: An informative and idea-filled interview with the co-director of Columbia University’s Youth Anxiety Clinic.

5 Ways to Help Teens Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus: More helpful tips…

How to Survive Being Quarantined with your Kids: An hour-long podcast that has some good suggestions for navigating your new world of prolonged family time (to put it mildly). It’s a bit more geared towards younger children, but there are useful suggestions for all ages throughout the podcast.

 For Both Students & Families:

Want to Help? The most vulnerable in our communities need us now more than ever, and getting involved and helping out is also a great way to manage feeling overwhelmed. It’s a win-win!

12 Famous Museums And Galleries You Can Visit Virtually From Your Own Couch: Break up the monotony of the view from your couch…

FACE COVID: Great perspective and practical advice from Dr. Russ Harris, a luminary in the field of clinical psychology.

Greater Good Science Center: Based out of Cal Berkeley, this awesome website offers frequently updated, well-written, and empirically-backed literature and ideas from the world of positive psychology.

Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe: A comprehensive guide from the American Psychological Association, with helpful information about what kinds of emotional & psychological effects you might expect from our new social distancing reality, some good strategies for coping, and a host of links to other useful tools and resources.

 Mindfulness

Ten Percent Happier and Headspace, two fantastic mindfulness-oriented websites, are offering free Coronvirus-related content. Both websites also offer a wealth of resources for everyone from beginners to experienced meditators…

Ten Percent Happier: Coronavirus Sanity Guide

Headspace: Weathering The Storm

Yoga

Yoga is pretty amazing; it helps you become both stronger and more flexible, while simultaneously offering an opportunity for mindfulness and focus on the moment! Here are two great, free resources:

Yoga with Adriene

Ekhart Yoga

 Podcast

The Happiness Lab, a podcast hosted by Yale psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos, has an informative and inspiring Coronavirus episode called Coronavirus BONUS: Beat Your Isolation Loneliness. You’ll find it if you scroll to the bottom of the page…