Thoughts from a College Junior – Mental Health, COVID-19, Isolation, and the Benefits of Getting Outside.

Hello! My name is Olivia, I’m a Junior at UMass Amherst, and I’m currently interning at Berkshire HorseWorks. As a psychology major, I think mental health is extremely important. Everyone deals with difficult times, but it’s not often that the whole world is fighting the same battle together.

Although people of all ages are affected, the younger generations have been hit particularly hard. According to a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “25.5 percent of adults between the ages of 18-24 reported having seriously considered suicide due to the pandemic.” The survey went on to discuss “how anxiety disorder was three times and depressive disorder was four times what was reported in the second quarter of 2019.”

As a young person, I can attest that things have been particularly difficult. It’s true there are new ways to stay connected: Students and employees are now learning or working online, and friends can stay connected over zoom. In fact, people in some ways are finding themselves closer together: college kids and adults are all home, meaning there is more time to spend with one’s family. But, personally, its challenging not to see my friends. After a while, the isolation, even with family, takes a toll. I experienced first-hand, the disappointment of being sent home mid semester and forced to take classes online at home instead of being at my college campus.

However, finding ways to get outside – even for a little while – has positively affected my mood. I have found that being at the ranch and interacting with the horses has helped relieve some of my stress. From spending time grooming and hiking with them, to getting a chance to sit in on EAGALA sessions with Hayley, I’ve both learned a lot and felt less alone. BHW offers equine-assisted programing and opportunities, whether you want mental health support in the form of Psychotherapy or just to get out of the house for some fresh air in the presence of horses. If you’re someone feeling particularly isolated by this pandemic, just know that you are not alone and we would like to help!