Top left to right: David Baltz, Aneita Cooper. Bottom left to right: Neal Harwell, Matt Knight
POCAHONTAS, AR November 24– On Friday, November 6, BRTC welcomed 4 Northeast Arkansas mental health professionals to visit with faculty and staff about the mental and emotional effects of COVID-19. Professionals discussed ways to address stress, anxiety, depression stemming from COVID-19 on oneself, family, work.
Panelists were David Baltz, licensed mental health counselor with the John J Pershing VA Medical Center in Pocahontas; Aneita Cooper, Director of Counseling at Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge; Neal Harwell, Director of Students, BRTC at Pocahontas; and Matt Knight, a licensed mental health counselor formerly with Mid-South Health Systems in Jonesboro.
The panelists all agreed that not only is COVID-19 causing anxiety and stress on Americans during this time, but events in the news including the presidential election and racial tension across the country also contribute to it.
Baltz explained that “anxiety is perception” and individuals can choose to think positively to address the stresses of COVID-19. He said he suggests that his patients rank their level of stress and decide which stressors are not life threatening, life threatening, and dangerous then address them accordingly. He said individuals must avoid judging others’ response to COVID and attempt to better manage their anxiety and stress.
Cooper suggested taking a break from social media to help reduce stress. She said learning how to take care of oneself an focusing on what is important now is important to coping. Identifying ways to feel a sense of control can help reduce stress and anxiety. She also said individuals need to help others during this difficult time.
Harwell reminded faculty and staff that it is okay to set boundaries on work and other places, including at home. Doing so is important to helping one manage stress. He also said it’s important to remember that fear exists to remind people to protect themselves.
Finally, Knight said taking breaks is important and that one person cannot do everything. He said, “We are what we think at any given moment” and a positive outlook can help a person feel safer and more relaxed. He also suggested that individuals find something or someone who makes them happy.
For more information about how BRTC is preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic and students’ return, visit with the BRTC campus health page at https://blackrivertech.org/brtcstudents/campus-health.