By Summer Tessneer
This semester, Amarillo College started a new support group called Talk It Out in hopes of helping students cope with the struggles of COVID-19.
“We felt students needed something different in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Amber White, the counseling center coordinator, said. “Loneliness and isolation were significant problems for students pre-COVID. However, those struggles have been exacerbated by the pandemic. One of our goals with the group is to help students connect with one another, even if it is virtually.”
Denese Skinner, the vice president of student affairs, said the difficulties students face inspired the idea.
“When I spoke to students who indicated that they lost their jobs and were struggling to pay their bills, it was heartbreaking. Hearing the struggles our students face moved me greatly. It inspired me to reach out to more students to see if we could assist them with CARES funding,” Skinner said.
Shelly Moss, the facilitator of Talk It Out, said she is excited to see the group grow.
“Back in pre-virus days, we used to get affirmation from others just by walking by people on campus and getting a wave and a smile, or maybe a hug or a pat from a friend. Now, even if we are on campus, smiles are hidden from us and people seem so alien. And of course, those hugs are now taboo! The support group is a way of providing that human validation and support that each of us needs and craves,” Moss said.
Moss stressed that the support group will maintain confidentiality.
“The group should be a safe place for people to share emotions and experiences without feeling like what they have shared will be shared outside the circle. Further, we want everyone in the group to respect that every person’s feelings and opinions are valid and real and deserve respect,” she said.
Moss explained that students who join the group have the opportunity to bring up a topic they want to discuss, or a topic will be presented by the facilitator.
The group meets every Wednesday from 11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. over Zoom. The link to the meeting is located in the counseling resource section of AC’s website. https://www.actx.edu/counseling/pagesmith/8.