Online NIU STEM Café: Stressed and depressed? You’re not alone

How can we manage the stress and isolation of sheltering in place? How do we cope with the challenges of working remotely and the anxiety of job uncertainty? How do we manage household relationships when resources, including technology and space, are limited? If you’re anxious about finances, working from home, managing the kids or coping with isolation, you’re not alone.

At the next online NIU STEM Café, learn coping strategies and find avenues to get help for yourself or family members with mental health experts from Northern Illinois University. The virtual STEM Café will take place on Wednesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. online via Adobe Connect. (See connection link and details below.)  

Hear from our panel of experts:

  • Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education.
  • Brian Smith, MSW, LCSW, director of the Employee Assistance Program.
  • Sarah Klaper, J.D., University Ombudsperson.
Susan Degges White

Suzanne Degges-White is a recognized expert and co-author of several books, including “Friends Forever,” “Toxic Friendships,” “Mothers and Daughters” and “Sisters and Brothers for Life.”

“Whatever you’re feeling is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation,” Degges-White says. “Crisis situations can bring out the best and the worst in us, and we have to cut ourselves and others some slack.”

Brian Smith, whose background includes over 25 years of mental health counseling, agrees. He says he hopes people will leave the online STEM Café with “an understanding that our physical and emotional reactions are a part of a natural survival response that we all experience.”

However, Smith emphasizes that we are not powerless in the face of these reactions. “By finding ways to cope, connect and persevere, we can respond to feelings of fear and powerlessness,” he says. “We have more power than we might think we do.”

Sarah Klaper

Sarah Klaper, an expert on conflict resolution and prevention within work environments, will focus specifically on healthy relationships and effective communication in the workplace – even when working remotely. “Now is as a good a time as any to set new, positive patterns,” she says.

Together, the three speakers plan to offer tips for addressing the wide variety of challenges people are facing in the time of COVID-19, including understanding and managing negative emotions, maintaining healthy relationships, parenting while working from home and developing healthy routines.

“Remember this is a temporary situation,” Degges-White says, “and the goal is to get us moving forward to a place where we can all feel safe and remain healthy. The human spirit is strong and if we know why we’re having to live under these new constraints, we can find our ‘how.’”

Access the Coping with Stress online meeting between 5:30 and 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15. The presentation will begin promptly at 6 p.m. and will last approximately two hours. On a computer, the Chrome browser works best, and you will be asked to download the Adobe Connect app. For tablets and mobile phones, go to your app store and download the Adobe Connect mobile app before attending. You will be able to listen to the speakers and will have a chance to type in your questions.

NIU STEM Cafés are sponsored by NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, visit NIU STEAM or contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email jdymond@niu.edu.

NIU STEM Cafés are grateful for the support of our community partners, the restaurants that usually host our cafés. Although we had to cancel in-person cafés, take advantage of these offers from our partners: At Fatty’s Pub & Grille in DeKalb, get 10% off your takeout meal if you mention that you attended the online STEM Café. Or, until Friday, May 15, get $5 off your carry out meal from Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove if you attended an NIU Virtual STEM Café.

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