• As universities and colleges close due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a need to support students who may be struggling as a result

  • Clinical psychologist Dr Patapia Tzotzoli shares video techniques from her online support system MePlusMe for students to use at this time

  • Therapists and counsellors are available and working online during the Covid-19 lockdown – find yours here

The coronavirus outbreak is presenting unprecedented challenges to everyone, and students are no exception. Understandably, the current pandemic has caught most universities off guard and placed increased pressure on their student support services, which were already struggling to meet high demand.

Colleges and universities have now closed in response to the crisis, leaving many students without suitable sources of support for their mental health and wellbeing. Recognising this need, iConcipio, a digital mental health platform of which I am the founder, have provided their MePlusMe videos for free to help students learn useful techniques to cope during tumultuous times.


Challenges faced by students 

Closing colleges and universities have left many students in significant distress, with some facing travel restrictions and others who have difficult family circumstances left with nowhere else to go.

Most, if not all, students are overwhelmed by anxiety as they face the uncertainty of this massive disruption to their learning and routine. Rapid adjustments have been made to get many lessons online, with students also forced to adjust quickly.

But how feasible is it for students to learn this way? For example, students may not have suitable environments for learning at home, while others may struggle due to time zone differences. What’s more, with examinations being postponed or also shifted online, questions arise over appropriate grading.


A supportive initiative

The current situation for students has greatly concerned me, and I strongly feel that I need to do something to help students.

Alongside my work as a clinical psychologist, I am also the CEO and founder of iConcipio Ltd, a digital mental health company aiming to enhance students’ resilience and improve their experience in higher education institutions. At iConcipio, we are developing an innovative system called MePlusMe.

Using our system, students have a choice between a symptoms route (the Questionnaire) or a techniques route (the Library), both of which lead to a tailor-made package of animated and evidence-based video techniques suited to their specific needs at that time. These videos present well-established psychological or study skill techniques, the effectiveness of which has been demonstrated through extensive scientific research.

Students can practice these techniques and over time, use a rating system to monitor their progress. A real-time social support network (the Thoughtwall) allows users to connect anonymously with others for mutual support.

In view of what is currently happening in the world, and given the unprecedented challenges being faced by our students, I have decided to release all the videos that we have developed so far in an attempt to support young people at this time.

These videos use graphics and examples suitable for higher education students, but they may also be useful to pupils at school or any young person whose mental health is being affected by our current everyday reality.

Feel free to share and disseminate these videos to anyone who might benefit as we all work to stay safe and well during the pandemic. Find the videos here.

A version of this article was originally published here.

Dr Patapia Tzotzoli is a verified welldoing.org psychologist based in Richmond. She also offers online therapy.

Further reading

Covid-19 mental health: It's OK not to be OK

How does online therapy differ from in-person?

Video: practical tips to manage coronavirus anxiety

Unexpected endings: support for young people struggling with coronavirus school closures

Using CBT techniques to combat lockdown anxiety