University to hold mental health STEM Café

Learning coping strategies amid coronavirus pandemic

NIU+is+hosting+an+online+mental+health+forum+to+support+students+during+the+coronavirus+pandemic.

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Kierra Frazier, Senior Reporter

Sarah Klaper
Courtesy Joe King
NIU Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper
Suzanne Degges-White, Chair of the NIU Department of Counseling and Higher Education
Courtesy Joe King
Suzanne Degges-White, Chair of the NIU Department of Counseling and Higher Education

DeKALB — Students and community members will have the opportunity to learn coping strategies and discover mental health resources at the next virtual NIU STEM Café, “Stressed and Depressed? – You’re Not Alone,” 6 p.m. Wednesday online via Adobe Connect.

Mental health experts from the university will join together for two hours to discuss how community members can manage the stress and loneliness of sheltering in place along with feeling anxious amid the pandemic, according to an NIU news release.

The experts offering tips include Suzanne Degges-White, chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education, Ombudsperson Sarah Klapper and Brian Smith, director of the Employee Assistance Program.

Smith, who has over 25 years of experience in mental health counseling, said he hopes the event will leave guests with “an understanding that our physical and emotional reactions are a part of a natural survival response that we all experience.”

“By finding ways to cope, connect and persevere, we can respond to feelings of fear and
powerlessness,” Smith said in the release. “We have more power than we might think we do.”

Degges-White said the goal is to get people moving forward to a place where they feel safe and remain healthy.

“Whatever you’re feeling is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation,” Degges-White said in the release. “Crisis situations can bring out the best and the worst in us, and we have to cut ourselves and others some slack.”

The online event is aimed at helping people understand and manage negative emotions, maintain healthy relationships, parent while working from home and develop healthy routines, according to the release.

Klapper will focus on educating viewers on maintaining healthy relationships and effective communication while working remotely.

The online portal on Adobe Connect will open at 5:30 p.m., and the presentation will start at 6 p.m. Guests will be allowed to ask questions by using the text box function in Adobe Connect.