Advice for students during coronavirus pandemic

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Whether it is worry over money, exams or family and friends – perhaps all three – the COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for students.

While many will be at home with their families, and subsequently isolated from their natural peer support, many others will be unable to leave their student accommodation or, in some cases, be unable to return to their home country.

Student services across the country are going to great lengths to communicate crucial advice and support, but it is incumbent on everyone to help.

Digital connectivity, though, means isolation does not have to mean loneliness.

Now is a good time to make that phone call, send that text or private message you’ve been meaning to send. Passing on that viral GIF or video that brought a smile to your face might just turn someone’s bad day into a manageable one.

University of the Highlands and Islands students should connect with the Highlands and Islands Student Association (HISA)  at www.hisa.uhi.ac.uk  for regional-specific news and updates, as well as staying in touch with staff at their own campus.

HISA depute president for the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI Marie-Louise Korte said: ‘HISA is operating fully online where our staff and officers will continue to serve our students’ needs. Our main priority throughout this process is the welfare of our students and we will continue to ensure they are supported to study in this new digital environment.

‘Communications from SAMS and the university has been immensely helpful in easing student concerns in Oban. Things may not be running as smoothly as they usually would, but we appreciate the hard work of our module leaders and student support teams in making the transition to online as easy as possible. Our health and well-being has been prioritised by staff and for that I am grateful.’

If you are feeling anxious or stressed, contact HISA, your student support officer, friends or family. You can also take simple steps to reduce the impact of isolation:

Get on that group chat

Okay, you can’t meet face to face, but group chats and video calls are the next best thing. You’ll be amazed at the different ways in which people are coping with being housebound.

Stay safe

It is already a well-worn mantra, but regularly washing hands and maintaining social distancing will hugely reduce your risk of contracting the virus and subsequently passing it on. Staying indoors makes this a lot easier but in the Highlands and Islands we are blessed with space, so get your daily exercise too.

Give your mind some time off

At times of stress and uncertainty, our minds can wander and often arrive at some worst-case scenarios. Reassure yourself you are taking all the precautions to stay healthy and that your university is working hard to ensure yo are not being disadvantaged in your studies. It’s a scary time, but it’s not forever. Even if you do need to keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news, listen to one bulletin per day. Coronavirus will be in the news for weeks and months to come, so pace yourself and consider whether push notifications and 24-hour news channels are a good idea.

Listen to experts

With so much coronavirus news and advice on social media, it is difficult to know what to believe. Make sure your facts are from a trusted source, such as the NHS and public health outlets, and always think before you share.

For the latest information on the university’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, see www.uhi.ac.uk/coronavirus