Meet Berak. Berak has been an international student counsellor in Carleton’s Health and Counselling Services for the past 11 years.

In her regular day-to-day, she provides one-on-one counselling services and leads stress management workshops for Carleton students and staff twice a year.

Recently, Berak was inspired to extend her typical programming to better serve the current demands and struggles of our community.

She had the idea to deliver virtual stress management workshops on Facebook Live—open to the Carleton community and beyond—with a notable twist to her typical content.

“A number of my clients have expressed fears and anxieties about the current COVID-19 situation. I decided to address those themes in the workshop and provide tips for dealing with these stressors that are new to us all,” she says.

When asked why it was important to her to support her community in this way, Berak didn’t hesitate. “People are telling me they feel isolated and alone. We’ve gotten so used to communicating through text and email, but people are really craving that human connection right now; they want to have those deeper conversations about their fears.

“Through these online workshops, I can help satisfy that craving for connection, while at the same time reaching and helping as many people as possible.”

The first workshop, held last Monday, had a great live turnout and continues to be shared after the fact—it currently has over 180 views.

Given the positive reactions to this pilot workshop, Berak hopes to develop other forms of online content that can be shared regularly, including tips and hands-on strategies that can help people cope during this uncertain time.

“Being in a position to help someone is amazing. Especially at a time when people are even more anxious than usual,” Berak muses. “It’s a matter of using my transferrable skills to support people during this time, bring people together and figure out how to best control what we can control—that is, how we cope.”

Health and Counselling Services remains open virtually, offering virtual counselling and medical services to students and staff. For more information or to book an appointment, click here.

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