Local non-profit launches mental health support group for college students

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mental health has significantly gotten worse during the pandemic, especially in students.

Transitioning to college life comes with unique challenges.

First Choice Services Outreach Coordinator, Jeremy Smith said, “they’ve left home maybe for the first time and they don’t have that support structure that they’ve always had their whole life so they’re having to find new coping mechanisms and new people in their life to be able to manage stress.”

To make things more difficult for students, COVID-19 put a halt on what college life should be all about.

“I honestly feel sorry for college students because some of them have lost that college experience,” said Smith.

Dorms have closed their doors, classes have gone virtual and student activities have been limited. These changes are impacting students’ mental health.

University of Charleston’s Director or Counseling and Outreach Services, Rance Berry said, “then you add to that the social restrictions due to health guidelines, you add to that the regular course load and then not being able to have any outlets and things of that nature, it’s wearing.”

The University of Charleston, for example, has seen an increase in student diagnoses of depression and anxiety during the pandemic.

“Help304”, a non-profit in Charleston is launching a new virtual support group where students can virtually meet and talk to a counselor in an anonymous group setting.

“Maybe if they’re not quite ready to go see a counselor, they can at least pop into a weekly Zoom meeting and learns some new coping mechanisms and some stress management strategies with a professional in an environment that has some of their peers around them too,” said Smith.

The support group is free, any college student may atend and it will be held every Thursday online.

The meetings will be held on Zoom and those interested must call in advance to get information on accessing the meetings. Participation will be limited, but additional sessions are planned.

To access the meetings, call 1-877-HELP-304, text 1-877-4357-304, email group304wv@gmail.com or visit www.HELP304.com for online chat.

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