PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – KDKA Anchor Rick Dayton has been working from home this week. He has spent a lot of time talking with pastors and counselors, and they have noticed it. Have you seen it? There’s a gap between those who say, “We’re going to be okay,” and those who quickly admit, “Right now, I am not okay.”
Dr. Ken Messina, Ph.D is the Clinical Director of the Student Counseling Center at Slippery Rock University. He says, “When we have a big unknown hanging out there, that’s when our anxiety starts coming up.”READ MORE: More Than $3,000 Worth Of iPhones Stolen From Store In Pennsylvania
Messina says he has been very proud of how well the students have adjusted to all the change they have been dealt this spring. Most students have transitioned quickly, but he has heard often how the lack of face-to-face learning has been hard for kids. It is also difficult for faculty who long for the chance to interact.
“Some people are definitely just getting a little bit more depressed,” observes Messina. They are “a little sadder because they’re missing those connections”
It’s not just college campuses. Pastors say they see two distinct responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all response, you’ve got people for whom this virus thing seems far away, and it’s affecting someone else,” says Dr. Dirk Lesnett, Senior Pastor of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Glenshaw, PA. “Then you’ve got other people who feel like it’s very near and even if they don’t have the disease, the social isolation has impacted their lives far beyond what they were prepared for.”READ MORE: Survey: Half Of Americans Plan To Shop On Small Business Saturday
Lesnett believes that widens the gap between them and those who do not feel threatened. “The magnification of the virus and this social isolation has made the vulnerable even more vulnerable in their stay at home, in their inability to get out and be with others.”
For Messina and those at Slippery Rock University, they know some students are faced by economic realities right now.
“Those students whose parents have lost jobs — or they’re having to care for a sick parent or grandparent or taking on more hours where they’re working – it kind of does drive that a little more where we see them struggling. They are asking questions like, you know, ‘am I going to be able to go back?’”
Lesnett says as a pastor who spends many hours visiting church members in the hospital or at their home when they are sick and facing difficult times, it is very hard not to be able to be together – to offer a personal touch.
“I’m finding in my phone calls,” says Lesnett, “because that’s what I’m limited to, that people seem to be doing rather well. But the overarching message is, ‘I can’t wait to be back with one another.’”MORE NEWS: Driver Crashes Into Five Below Store In Cranberry Township
There is one final observation from Dr. Messina. Just because we are all asked to observe social distancing doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant. He says to reach out to people let them know that you’re thinking about them, and ask what you can do to help them if they are feeling alone.