Take a moment to get to know Divya Thakkar, new Mental Health Clinician at the Missouri State Counseling Center.
Tell us about yourself. I am from India, and I did my Bachelor’s in Psychology from Mumbai, India. I came to United States of America in 2017 to pursue my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Kent State University, Ohio. I have worked with students at Kent State University both as a mental health counselor and an academic advisor. I am excited to start working with students at MSU.
Tell us about your job at Missouri State. I will be working as a Mental Health Clinician and my office is located in the counseling center at Mager’s Health Center. Apart from providing individual and group counseling to students, I will also be assisting the center in addressing diversity and equity related issues and improving services to meet student’s mental health needs.
Why is it so important we focus on our student’s mental/emotional health as well as their physical health in 2022? I am a firm believer in holistic health. Research has shown that mental and physical health go hand in hand. For instance, being physically active (working out, playing a sport, doing yoga, swimming, biking, etc) will improve your mood. With the pandemic, it is even more important that our student’s focus on their overall health which will equip them in dealing with the uncertainties and the stressors that come with it.
What tips do you have for students to help them deal with the stress that comes from being a college student? I want to start answering this question by saying that, this is one of the hardest times for most of the students since they have to manage a lot of things and also deal with the uncertainty and chaos that the pandemic brings.
It is extremely important to have healthy food habits, engaging in physical activity of some sort, getting quality sleep, having healthy coping skills to deal with the stressors, have a community/friends/group of people who are supportive of you, pursuing a hobby, and reaching out for help if you feel like you are struggling. There are a plethora of services on campus which students can utilize for their support and overall development.
What do you see as some of the biggest issues facing our students in 2022? I have noticed an increase in social anxiety amongst the students since a lot of them haven’t been very socially active due to online classes and are now struggling to socialize. Students who prefer to have face to face classes are struggling academically. Students feel like they are missing out on the normal college experience which adds to the disappointment.
Many international students weren’t able to visit their home countries since the pandemic started. Some students struggle due to the loss of a loved one or any other losses (like lost a job or friendships/relationships, etc.).
Furthermore, the new variant is not making it any easier. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, worried, agitated, irritated, tired, helpless, etc., you are not alone. So, please reach out for support to either your loved ones or to the professionals and organizations on and off campus.
What advice would you give family members to help them help their student understand the importance of Self-Care as a Bear? Self-care is the process of taking care of one’s self by engaging in certain activities or sometimes by refraining from being a part of something that will cause distress. One of the best things a family member can do is practice self-care activities themselves and model those behaviors to the students.
Some families can arrange a virtual or in person self-care activity and encourage the students to join. They can also do a routine where they check in with the students about their self-care and provide support. Some examples of self-care practices are pursuing a hobby, learning a new language or a new instrument, being socially connected, going to the gym, doing yoga, swimming, reading, coloring, meditating, etc.
For some, not going to a particular event and relaxing at home can also be self-care. It is very subjective and different people can have different ways of taking care of themselves. I would encourage the families to be open to the individual differences.