Tech can be a grueling place during regular times; it’s unsurprising that a nationwide pandemic, which has all but zapped our social lives and mental health routines, has sent many students over the edge.
Exhaustion from constant stress, albeit a different kind of isolated and virtual stress, is to be expected this semester.
Usually, students would easily be able to talk to resident advisors, friends, staff and professors at their leisure if they needed a helping hand.
This semester, after two successful years of in-person sessions, GTCC is attempting to fill that void with a virtual version of the Let’s Talk program.
Let’s Talk is a program under Georgia Tech’s Counseling Center (GTCC) that offers free, confidential counseling to students.
This semester, they’re hosting virtual one-on-one appointments via BlueJeans, which students can sign up for by emailing one of three counselors listed on the Let’s Talk website.
As of now, the program is running on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. A list of counselors and their corresponding availabilities can be found on the website.
Let’s Talk is much less formal than traditional counseling — there’s no clinical paperwork and no pressure to continue a relationship — so it’s ideal for students apprehensive about a long-term commitment.
Appointments usually only last about 15 minutes as opposed to GTCC’s regular 50-minute appointments, which means most students can fit Let’s Talk into their schedule. They’ve been scheduled to occur until December of this year.
During regular COVID-less semesters, Let’s Talk offers the same free, informal and relatively quick counseling at sites around Tech’s campus.
Perhaps one silver lining of the pandemic, which has resulted in thousands of students living off campus, is the accessibility to programs such as Let’s Talk.
Once only at physical locations, Let’s Talk, club meetings, health appointments and other functions have been reworked to be available to all students regardless of address.
The Counseling Center advises anyone who is going through a specific problem and wants advice, who is concerned about a friend and needs help, or who simply wants the perspective of a counselor without the commitment to counseling to try out the program.
They clarify that while their appointed counselors are open to talk about whatever the student brings up, they aren’t substitutes for psychotherapy.
They may assist the student to find a more permanent or intensive counselor if it seems like one would better suit them.
Let’s Talk emphasized privacy and confidentiality. When signing up for an appointment, students receive individual BlueJeans links via email.
There are a few instances where privacy cannot legally be kept.
In the case of suicidal ideation or when there is another immediate, life-threatening situation, Let’s Talk counselors are required to share the information with the appropriate authorities.
In addition, counselors report cases of abuse in which the victim is a minor, an elderly person, or incapacitated and unable to handle the threat.
Let’s Talk appointments are never listed on a student’s official university record.
This semester is intensifying all sorts of obstacles that students typically deal with outside of school. Many students at Tech normally deal with academic and occupational anxiety — stress related to finding the right career, meeting class deadlines and studying for midterms — but this year that academic stress has engulfed other facets of wellbeing, too.
The academic setting has entered our personal lives, increasing emotional, physical, and even spiritual or existential stress.
Physical activity is an added challenge because of social distancing measures in place on and off campus.
We’ve now been keeping ourselves away from friends for about six months; the effects of isolation on mental health, especially for students already struggling with this, are abysmal.
Instead of being able to come home after class and wind down by talking or going to the gym with friends, we are stuck with ourselves.
Our worlds have shrunk to the size of our rooms, and we all know that this gets incredibly lonely.
Let’s Talk, while certainly not a replacement for social interaction, is a great option for students who just need a quick way to talk to someone, especially during these incredibly stressful times.