Making virtual connections

Staying strong and keeping connected during COVID-19

Author: by Irlanda Price, AVP Student Affairs

Resources and supports to help you this summer

A lot has happened in the world over the past three months. We’ve gone from face-to-face classrooms to virtual classrooms; we’ve had our social circles tightened as everyone works to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19; and many of us have experienced reduced work hours and financial strains.

While we are slowly expanding our social circles now and local businesses continue to gradually re-open, there are still a lot of rapid-pace changes and uncertainty. The whole world is also grappling with the issue of anti-Black racism, which was brought to the forefront most recently by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations. 

It’s important to recognize that these world situations can and do impact us on a personal level in our day-to-day lives. We want to remind you there are the supports available to you as a VIU student. You are not alone – help is just a text, phone call, email or video chat away. Here are a few ways to stay strong and connected at this difficult time.

 

Reach out for help

Sometimes you need a little extra help adapting when life gets stressful or you experience a big change and/or you suddenly find yourself isolated at home. Widening our bubbles after this experience can also be difficult for many as we carefully re-integrate with close family and friends. Feeling lost? All you have to do is reach out. VIU counsellors are here for you.

The provincial government’s free counselling service, Here2Talk, connects students with mental health support when they need it. It is available 24/7 via app, phone and web.

Another resource for those experiencing heightened anxiety, stress, isolation and more is BCcampus’s new Adapting to COVID-19 webpage, where you’ll find webinars on topics like effective online learning, mental health and resilience.

 

Get support with paying the bills

The federal and provincial governments have created relief measures to help students struggling financially during this time. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides financial supports to post-secondary students, as well as recent post-secondary and high school graduates, who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.

You may qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance instead. There are a range of initiatives outlined on the Economic Response Plan homepage that you may qualify for to help you through these challenging times.

The BC government’s COVID-19 Action Plan also includes several relief measures that you may qualify for. We’ve collected information about different government relief initiatives, as well as other community supports, on our COVID-19 Financial Assistance Resources for Students page.

The Student Loan application process is also now open for the 2020/21 academic year. Visit VIU’s Financial Aid & Awards page for more information and links.

 

Connect with others

The mental health benefits of connecting with your peers, making new friends and sharing a laugh together are HUGE. Students and employees have been busy creating virtual opportunities to have fun together, from Netflix parties to fitness challenges to regular coffee chats via Zoom.

Check out these opportunities on our Campus Events homepage, or download the VIU Students’ Union App on your phone.

 

Looking ahead

This fall, VIU is planning a number of events and activities to make sure students remain connected with one another in engaging, fun ways. It will be a six-week affair with lots of opportunities to meet your peers and get to know VIU. It all starts off with our RockVIU: Welcome to Campus events. Want to help out? Email welcometocampus@viu.ca. See you soon!

  

Irlanda Price is VIU’s Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs.

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