Utilize the two images below for ideas on how to take a quick (or long!) mental health break, and simple actions you can take to maintain self-care during the pandemic (click images to enlarge), and as you progress through the new semester!
Recognizing that technology is a regular part of our daily functioning, and can be used to benefit us in the day to day, below is a compiled list of apps that may assist you through your learning journey.
Free apps were included, as available. Apps being included in this list does not equate to endorsement by NOVACares or Northern Virginia Community College.
Apps for Tutoring, Studying Assistance & Time Management
Audio Note Lite (Android) (iOs)
Educreations Interactive Whiteboard
Apps for Learners with Dyslexia
Practice English Grammar- Free
Apps for Learners with Attention Issues
Remember the Milk (Android) (iOs)
Apps for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
CommBoards Lite- AAC Speech Assistant
Apps for Stress Management
Online life is in the forefront for many of us, especially for schooling, working, and staying connected with others. This also means we are finding more entertainment online due to closure of many venues we would typically frequent. Below are some suggestions of what you can do to have fun online during the pandemic:
The possibilities are endless; try out something new, and share with others what you find to keep yourself entertained during this time!
As fall semester is fast approaching, some of you are beginning college for the first time, some are continuing on your current track, and some are returning after a break in your studies, or to begin a new area of study altogether. Adjustment is the word as you move through your college experience, particularly during these unprecedented times.
Below are some tips to support your efforts for a success semester:
Prioritize your attendance: There’s no principal’s office in college, and you will not find many people clocking your time. However, don’t cheat yourself by skipping class; you’ll miss out on lecture material, fall behind due to procrastination, and miss out on real-time connections with your classmates. Protect your investment (remember, you’re paying) by showing up for class!
Avoid late work/make-up assignments and exams– Try to complete your work timely; make-up assignments and exams are difficult to schedule for both you and your professor, can compound your work in other courses, and may lead to the development of the poor habit of pushing things off. Time management is imperative for your success! If you need accommodations, apply early and openly communicate with your professors should an emergency arise.
Do your own work!– Plagiarism is not only an academic integrity offense, but it robs you the opportunity of showing off your abilities. Be careful not to just change words around from a source; this is known as turn-of-phrase plagiarism, and is still considered cheating! Always cite your sources. Tutoring is available for free through NOVA, and includes paper reviews. Having a late night? Don’t fret! Tutor.com offers 24/7 tutoring services accessible through CANVAS.
Put down that phone– Even the best multi-taskers can get distracted by their phones. Make sure to get the most of your lectures by putting your phone down; you won’t miss vital information, and will convey to your professor that you care and are paying attention. Excessive use can impact your sleep and mood; too much social media time is liked to depression and anxiety symptoms.
Utilize academic advising– Check in with your advisor at least once a semester to make sure that you are taking the classes you desire, and that they follow the track of your degree or certification program. They can also help you if you need to change or decrease your case load. Academic advisors can inform you about extracurricular activities and other interests, and how to fit them into your schedule.
Join extracurricular activities– To round out your college experience, it’s a great idea to heck out and engage in clubs and campus activities. Consider connecting with campus clubs and organizations, and joining the Virtual Student Union, which will allow you to forge relationships with your fellow students (and they make great résumé builders).
Stay healthy– Eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, and move your body! Establish a routine in your school schedule and in your personal life, and maintain mental wellness through taking breaks, maintaining boundaries, and checking in with family and friends and expressing your feelings. Resources for a variety of wellness needs are provided through the NOVACares office. You can also reach out for help with concerns you have at NOVA by submitting a NOVACares report.
You are embarking on a remarkable journey to validate and expand your potential through higher education; display your talents and skills. High fives to an awesome fall semester!
As we trudge through another month of life during a pandemic, many questions about the future remain. The constant state of the unknown can be anxiety-provoking at minimum, and even though we have all made adjustments, attempting to settle into our new “normal”, the rules, expectations, and mores seem to shift at a moment’s notice.
Even on our best days, the sense of uncertainty and lack of control is ever-present. We try to resume our routines but can feel that things are not quite as they once were in the sea of masks, cleaner and hand sanitizer shortages, remote study and work environments, and travel restrictions. Although none of us are sure when the current situation will end, there are strategies to mitigate the anxiety of the unknown.
Reflect– Take the time to check in with yourself; how are you feeling? Try and pinpoint things that are going well and feel comforting to you, as well as trials you are experiencing, and what you are feeling uncertain about. Consider journaling, meditating or praying.
Be kind to yourself– Do not dwell on or minimize your struggles by comparing them to others or fixating on what you “should” be doing. Recognize that you are doing your best, and your best is enough. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend when they come to you in need.
Focus on what you can control– Limit your news and social media exposure, don’t ruminate on worst case scenarios, or conceptualize fast forwarding to the end of rough times to get your life back- your life is happening right now. Instead, focus on what you can do and control, like your health, activity, relationships and social time. Work towards your goals a little every day.
Take care of yourself– Make sure to tend to your basic wellness needs, like healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep. Prioritizing your physical and mental health will bolster resilience during difficult times. Also make sure to maintain healthy boundaries- say “no” if you don’t feel up to something, establish a routine, and end work or study time appropriately (set an alarm if you need to!).
Try a new hobby or skill– Instead of focusing on what you can no longer do, or what has changed, limiting your ability to do your job, studies, or hobbies as you used to, consider a new hobby. Revisit an activity you have not engaged in in some time, or seek to learn a new skill. This will help with your sense of purpose.
Ask for help- If you are struggling, and are experiencing difficulty functioning daily, consider asking for help. Mental health professionals, such as therapist and psychologists, are available to assist you during a difficult time. The NOVACares mental health provider database can be accessed at https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html.
As BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month is nearing its end and protests against racial inequality continue, you may be wondering what the acronym stands for. Moving away from the term “minority” to describe non-white persons, BIPOC is the favored descriptor per organizations such as Mental Health America, to remove the connotation of non-white persons being “othered” in American society.
Below, in the article, What Does the Acronym BIPOC Mean?, author Kendra Cherry defines BIPOC, explains why the acronym matters, when and when not to use the term, and the implications of labeling and mislabeling others.
As people work to educate themselves about racism and racial justice, there are new terms and acronyms that some people may not be familiar with. BIPOC is one acronym that has become more prevalent due to the 2020 George Floyd protests against police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. The acronym BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color” and is pronounced “buy-pock” as opposed to saying each letter individually.
The BIPOC acronym originated from the term “people of color,” which itself emerged as a “person-first” way to take back the phrase “colored people” from its racist history. The BIPOC acronym builds on that, while also acknowledging that not all people of color have the same experiences or deal with the same types of injustice.
Black refers to mid- to dark-toned complexions who often have African or Caribbean ancestry and who are often the descendants of people who were enslaved. Black Americans have a unique history that is not shared by people of color in other countries. They have been referred to by many names throughout U.S. history, including abhorrent slurs.
The addition of Black to the acronym highlights the specific forms of racism and oppression that Black Americans face.
Indigenous refers to groups native to the Americas who were here before the colonization by Europeans. This includes Native Americans, as well as Indigenous peoples from the Americas who have later immigrated to the U.S.
Indigenous people have experienced discrimination and mistreatment from official policies and practices as well as erasure of their culture and identity.
People of color is an umbrella term to refer to non-white individuals who often face discrimination. Non-white people include those who have Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Pacific Island heritage, among others.
While these groups are often included under the collective POC umbrella, it is important to remember that all of these people have their own cultural history and are often affected by prejudice and discrimination in different ways.
POC on its own can often be seen as a way of erasing or minimizing the unique experiences of Black and Indigenous people. BIPOC, on the other hand, helps foster greater inclusion of people who have faced racism and mistreatment because of the color of their skin and their culture.
The acronym POC can be used to imply that all people of color (Asian, Latinx, Black, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern, for example) have the same or similar experiences. It can also appear to insinuate that people from non-white ethnic groups are interchangeable.
BIPOC aims to unite all people of color while also acknowledging the unique history of oppression, systemic racism, and cultural erasure that Black and Indigenous people face. BIPOC is a way of creating greater recognition and inclusion of these marginalized groups.
Acronyms such as BIPOC can play an important role in serving different identities in our society. The labeling of non-white people has a long, often discriminatory history. More recently in history, people have adopted terms intended to foster greater inclusivity and sensitivity, such as the phrase ‘person of color’ or ‘people of color.’
While POC has become a useful way to describe people of non-white backgrounds from all over the world, there is an emerging awareness that there is a need to include more people and acknowledge that some groups are often left out of the conversation. Indigenous people, for example, are often excluded from discussions of race issues.
By including Black and Indigenous, the BIPOC acronym specifically addresses two groups that have faced and continue to face prevalent discrimination, racism, and oppression.
Research has shown that racism and implicit bias can have a wide range of damaging consequences:
According to The BIPOC Project, use of the term BIPOC is used “to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context.”
Terms like BIPOC can be useful for broad inclusivity when referring to social groups. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these groups are not homogeneous. The BIPOC acronym appreciates the shared experiences and collective power of communities of color but recognizes that these experiences are not always the same and that these communities have unique histories and cultures.
How do you know when to use BIPOC or when another term might be more appropriate?
If you are talking about issues that affect both Black and Indigenous people, using BIPOC is appropriate.
When it comes to word choice, be as specific as possible. If you are referring to an individual and you know that person’s specific nationality, you should refer to them by it. If you are talking about an issue that affects a specific group, you should refer to that group specifically rather than use an umbrella term such as BIPOC or POC.
If you are referring to an individual or to an issue that affects a specific group of people, use a specific identifier and not a general acronym such as BIPOC.
Not everyone agrees with the use of BIPOC as an umbrella term, suggesting that using this type of generalist approach of lumping so many identities under one broad term erases the ways that racism affects people of different races.
Acronyms such as BIPOC are important because they are part of reclaiming discriminatory terms and removing their negative connotations. Historically, the term “colored people” was used as a way to “other” and discriminate against non-white people. The restructuring of that term as “people of color” places the emphasis on people first in order to make it more inclusive.
Person-first language focuses on putting a person before a label. It is often used in the context of disability and illness in order to avoid the marginalization and dehumanization of people with conditions or disabilities, but it can also be applied in other ways including in discussions of race.
Sometimes people may struggle to get used to newer terminology, particularly when their attitudes have been shaped by a white-dominant culture and systematic racism. If you or someone you know is struggling to understand why its important to adopt new acronyms and other terms related to race and identity, remember that language is always evolving. Old words fall out of favor and new ones take on new meaning.
So why is it so important to learn about and use acronyms like BIPOC even if they may eventually be changed or replaced? The use of such labels is an important part of inclusivity, particularly if you are not BIPOC. Acknowledging other people’s unique identities and experiences can help marginalized groups feel seen and heard, so it is a worthwhile task to learn new terminology and change how you refer to other people.
For example, older individuals may be more likely to address Black people as “African Americans” because they may have previously learned that the term was more appropriate than other labels. It is important to remember that while some people might prefer to be called “African American,” others prefer “Black.” This may be because many people cannot trace their background to a specific country or because they feel that the term is another way of “othering” Black people.
If it is something that seems like too much effort or too difficult to learn, remember that non-white people have had to regularly adapt their appearances and actions in order to accommodate white people in white spaces for generations, a phenomenon known as code-switching.
It’s worth it to make the effort to help people know that their identity is acknowledged, respected, and valued.
Language is shaped by our individual and societal views, but it is essential to remember that our perspective can also be influenced by the words we choose to use. It is critical to think about how language can be used to oppress and to discriminate. Once biased or racist words and phrases make their way into the mainstream, the use of such terms often goes unchallenged or the discriminatory origins are forgotten.
Changing terminology alone won’t change the systems or culture that uphold white supremacy, but making the conscious effort to be more inclusive in your language can help contribute to a world that is more accepting of diversity and supportive of racial justice.
Terms and acronyms that refer to a person’s race are an important part of identity. Racial mislabeling can happen by mistake, but it can also be weaponized to inflict emotional harm. For example, mislabeling can be wielded to intentionally deny or invalidate someone’s racial identity.
Mislabeling can be defined as incidents in which one individual describes another person’s race as something different from how that individual self-identifies.
Mislabeling someone can be hurtful, but there are things that you can do to address it and make amends.
There are many ways to further educate yourself about racism and learn more about how you can foster inclusivity and support antiracism.
Source: What Does the Acronym BIPOC Mean? by Kendra Cherry; https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-bipoc-5025158
Now more than ever, the pandemic has us stuck in front of our computers to engage in school, work, social contact, and taking care of duties like bills and grocery shopping. As sitting and engaging with your computer too long is detrimental, frequent breaks are necessary.
It is recommended that for your eyes, you should follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer 20 feet away for 20 seconds to combat eye fatigue. Micro-breaks are two minutes or less, and are quick way to take a physical break from your computer (and chair) to help your back and other muscles engaged when sitting. Rest breaks are advised every 30 to 60 minutes to give you the fullest benefits of renewed energy by stepping away from the computer, physically and mentally.
As you know, too much of anything can be harmful, so here are some tips to get your away from your computer for a break!
Wellness is often used to describe care of your physical health through exercise and nutrition, however, overall wellness goes beyond physiology. To help bolster the idea that wellness includes more than your body, seven dimensions of wellness have been developed to encourage higher quality of life, and to remind us that neglecting a dimension, or overly focusing on one will lead to an imbalance.
Emotional– this dimension highlights the importance of acknowledging and accepting the whole range of your emotions, and that by doing so, you will strengthen the relationships with yourself, others, and the intimacy experienced in those relationships. Wellness in this area includes self-esteem, optimism, the ability to cope with changes and stressors, asserting boundaries, and feelings of autonomy.
Spiritual– spirituality is encompassed by the search for meaning and purpose in the existence of humans. It includes a sense of connectedness to life and nature, the universe, and with those around us. Most notably, this dimension is about establishing consistency in your values and beliefs, and living them. Spiritual wellness includes hope, faith, and finding harmony and peace in your life.
Intellectual– this dimension focuses on creativity, learning, and mental stimulation. Strength is built through balancing your interests with the awareness of current events and issues. Wellness is achieved by seeking what is learned, and applying it when making decisions, navigating relationships, and embracing lifelong learning opportunities.
Physical– Wellness in this area is primarily achieved through moving your body. It is also important to achieve adequate nutrition, and avoiding behaviors like smoking and drinking that can cause poor health. Taking precautions and purposefully engaging in physical activity are key.
Social– this dimension is focused on connection with others. Finding your place in society through your contributions is a hallmark, and you can support your self-acceptance and esteem through relationships with those that are supportive and encouraging of you. You can gain a sense of wellness by being present for others as well.
Occupational- this dimension focuses on a sense of accomplishment, success and growth through your career, while balancing duties and aspirations with the other areas of your life. Wellness is achieved through positive feelings from contributing, personal satisfaction with your output and acknowledgment from others of your talents and skills.
Environmental– Wellness in this dimension is achieved by caring for the environment through conservation, recycling, reuse and protection efforts. Recognizing that your actions and choices have an impact on the environment will help you prioritize your values related to the world around you, and shape your daily habits.
In May 2008, the United States House of Representatives declared July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and BIPOC* Mental Health Awareness Month. This declaration was the result of advocate and author Bebe Moore Campbell seeking to highlight mental health concerns in minority communities, particularly the Black community, as well as the disparities in treatment and mortality in these communities compared to white communities.
Bebe Moore Campbell was a teacher, journalist, and best-selling author, writing for publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Essence and Ebony before transitioning to fiction novel writing. Although fiction was her focus in the 1990s, she wrote about the stereotyping of Black people, and countered them by choosing to paint her characters as wealthy and successful. She also focused on real events impacting the Black community, such as the lynching of Emmett Till.
Moore Campbell first focused on mental health in the Black community through the writing of her children’s book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, highlighting a little girl’s experience of growing up with a mentally ill mother. She was awarded an Outstanding Media Award for Literature by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for this book in 2003. She followed up with The 72-Hour Hold, referencing the typical length of time someone is placed under an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization order. This book focused on bipolar disorder, and was inspired by a family member of Bebe.
Bebe Moore Campbell was also a founding member of the NAMI Inglewood chapter, which expanded into the NAMI Urban Los Angeles Chapter in California. She advocated by speaking out against stigma of mental illness, and promoted treatment and education in communities of color, and used her platform to push this agenda into the focus of mainstream society. She assembled a taskforce along with her friend, Linda Wharton-Boyd, to push legislation to spread awareness, encourage mental health checkups, access to medications, community mental health services, and declaration of a minority mental health awareness month. Sadly, Bebe Moore Campbell abruptly became ill with brain cancer, and lost her battle with the disease in November 2006. Wharton-Boyd continued the rally for an awareness month, and Representatives Albert Wynn of Maryland and Diane Watson of California co-signed legislation, which passed.
Although strides have been made to reduce stigma and connect people to mental health care, more work is still to be done in BIPOC* communities. An American Psychological Association report found that in 2015, only 4% of psychologists are Black, 5% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian. Roughly 30% of Black and Hispanic adults living with mental illness actually receive care, and there is continued lack of access to medications and preventative community mental health care. We can honor Bebe Moore Campbell’s efforts by striving for inclusivity and wide reaching access to care, and continued advocacy efforts against stigma, and for prevention to curb the need for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. Equity in mental health care is wellness for us all!
For resources, information and statistics related to minority mental health, check out:
Learn About Minority Mental Health Month
Bebe Moore Campbell Was the Champion for Mental Health We Need Right Now
Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations
National Alliance on Mental Health
Black Mental Health Matters (resources)
Mental Health Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)
Mental and Behavioral Health-Hispanics
National Latino Behavioral Health Association
*Black and Indigenous Persons of Color
It is very human to want to help someone, particularly someone you care about, when you see them stressed out or in pain. It is also very human to seek validation for your own experiences. Can you recall a time you needed to be heard, and someone told you what you “should” do instead? Not very helpful, huh?
As illustrated in the short video below, we can use empathy to be present for others during their struggles as to not fall into “fixing” mode- although well-intentioned, unless your thoughts and advice are requested, you should avoid giving them as to not alienate the person opening up to you, because advice may not be what they are seeking, or what they feel they need right then. Do not assume what they may need- ask them how you can help them in the moment to support their feelings, not to fix the issue.
Be an active listener, seeking the message being sent to you, instead of thinking of what you want to say next. You can reflect to the speaker that you heard them by repeating back in your words what they said, asking for clarification, and even just saying things like, “wow, that sounds rough,” and “what a difficult day you had.” Doing so illustrates that you represent a safe space where the speaker can open up, instead of a person who may be judging or not understanding them. You can also ask open ended questions, such as, “what happened next?” and “how did that make you feel?” These invite the speaker to fully express their feelings, and helps you truly hear them.
A discussion between you and the person you care for should occur to help you both articulate the ways that you like to give and receive support in your relationship, and to create space for you both to address issues together, instead of working against each other. This is pertinent practice for you to advocate for yourself when someone is trying to support you, and for you to know how to best assist someone when called on to do so.
It’s Not About The Nail https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg
Stop Trying to Fix Things, Just Listen! https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skills-healthy-relationships/201606/stop-trying-fix-things-just-listen
Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening https://www.growingself.com/stop-fixing/
How to show up for a friend without trying to fix their problems, according to a therapist https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/how-to-support-a-friend-without-fixing-problems/