ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Jan. 10, 2024) - As a new year and a new semester begins, students across the world will embark on a new set of classes and routines. As they juggle academic and social responsibilities, mental health challenges related to competing workloads and personal obligations can become burdensome.

According to an article in National Education Association, (NEA) Today, the majority of college students (more than 60 percent) meet the criteria for at least one mental health challenge, including anxiety or depression.

To help Vikings and the greater community maintain balance and good mental health, Latonia Johnson, director of Student Counseling Services at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), shared tips on how to stay levelheaded and successful during stressful seasons.


What are some triggers that might bring stress for students during the semester?

Events which may cause increased symptoms of stress for students throughout the semester can include less-than-satisfactory or failing grades, an unhealthy home environment or family dynamics, unstable housing, food insecurities, coping with recent losses, financial difficulties, among other things.

What can students do during and leading up to the semester’s end to get ahead of stress? 

There are many strategies and activities students can engage in to alleviate or minimize stress. The suggestions below can be utilized any time:

  • Get adequate rest
  • Plan to complete and submit work on time
  • Engage with professors throughout the semester regarding academic concerns
  • Take advantage of tutorial services and other support as needed
  • Maintain a balanced schedule

What are some online tools and platforms students can utilize to de stress?

  • Consider downloading Calm. It’s free for ECSU students.
  • ECSU students can register for Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). The tool offers self-paced videos for a variety of subjects including strategies related to communication, challenging thoughts, anxiety, deep breathing, managing anger, relaxation, and substance use. Students can register with their ECSU email account here.
  • While available, students may complete an application to request funding for off-campus mental health-related activities and services, as needed. This option may be beneficial for students to take advantage of during school breaks and/or on an emergent basis. For additional information email counselingcenter@ecsu.edu or call 252-335-3275.

How can professors implement strategies in their classrooms that encourage mental health and assist students with burnout and mental and emotional struggles?

Professors are encouraged to develop relationships with their students early in the semester. If and when changes in mood, attitude, or academic functioning are suspected, it is requested that referrals be made to Student Counseling Services at 252-335-3275.

Students who may need mental health counseling could be fearful of the financial burdens. What alternatives does ECSU offer to assist? 

Assistance provided by Student Counseling Services are free of charge for current ECSU students.

What are some of the practices you personally utilize to take care of your mental health?

Self-care is important for all of us. As I often say, “It’s OK to not be OK, but it is not OK to harm yourself or others because you are not OK.” There are several strategies I use, and students can use, in real time to maintain a healthy wellbeing:

  • Take a walk
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Engage in exercise like yoga and meditation
  • Spend time with friends