We’re just 5 days away from the election, and it’s taking a mental toll on many of us. Over two thirds of U.S. adults say the 2020 race is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a recent poll. Mari Young has more on how students are coping with the lead up to election day.

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Election stress, election fatigue – whatever you call it, the current state of US politics, can really wear a person down.

“I feel like a computer with too many files in my head”

Natalie Bettendorf would have been a USC senior in Journalism right now. But, she took off the Fall semester, to take care of herself.

“So I understood very early on, probably in the spring, that November was going to be heavy and chaotic. Part of why I took the semester off was because of election stress but also like knowing ahead of time, I was like, we are in a time where hundreds of thousands of people have died at this point. And having so much dread and pessimism for months and months now, I think it’s going to be too much to keep up with that and be in school at the same time.”

Natalie wanted specifically to preserve her mental health and well-being.

“Keeping up to date is impossible right now without sacrificing your mental health. And the election was a big looming part of that. Too many things to make sense of, too many things I was dreading – I don’t have the resources to calm myself right now, even.”

Whether you’re able to take time off and stay calm, or if you are pushing through a tough semester on Zoom you should know that USC student health counselors are available. They offer one-on-one sessions and group workshops dealing specifically with stresses caused by the election. Dr. Edden Agonafer works at the Counseling Center at the Keck School of Medicine

“For this particular election we knew that, because of the pandemic, because of the social unrest that was taking place this summer, with people doing virtual classes, we sensed that a lot of people were feeling isolated. There are ongoing stressors. So this is just an attempt to make sure there’s a specific place for election-related stressors.”

They offer services for the entire USC community. They also have specific stress-related support for the BIPOC, LGBTQ and other marginalized communities affected by the election. Kelly Greco helps direct the outreach program at Keck… She says they’ve added a virtual “drop-in” program…

“We wanted another outlet to have students drop in to workshop to help support cmty to understand how do I cope, feel cmty to move through this. We all need outlets. Hope that’s what it serves. Safe space. Talk about coping skills. Thrive during stressful times right now.”

In the face of undeniably hard world events to live through, we can arm ourselves with healthy coping mechanisms and a sense of community. There to help.

For Annenberg Media... I’m Mari Young…