Unfortunately, It’s a Good Time to Study Anxiety and Drinking
Also in our Coronavirus Thursday Roundup: Commonwealth offers relief to those having trouble paying their privately held student loans
If you have a question or comment related to BU and its response to the COVID-19 crisis, on the subject of the move-out, remote learning, retrieving personal belongings, or anything else, please visit Boston University’s special COVID-19 website. Questions are being answered there by specific departments in a timely fashion. Thank you.
—Doug Most, executive editor, BU Today
Quote of the day:
Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us.
Stat of the day:
Drinking too much during the pandemic? Read this
People joke about the damage that being cooped up at home amid the pandemic is doing to their livers—too many “Quarantinis”—but it’s no laughing matter for some. “One thing we’ve noticed is that people may be increasing their drinking, in part due to the fact that there’s less structure in the day” during the pandemic, says Todd Farchione, a College of Arts & Sciences research associate professor and a member of BU’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD).
“Going to the office, driving in, having the same responsibilities—these things helped people who struggled with managing their behavior on their own,” he says. “But now they don’t have that anymore. So it’s a bad situation for people with addiction or substance abuse issues. And what’s open? Grocery stores and liquor stores.”
Farchione is principal investigator on two CARD studies looking at methods to reduce alcohol abuse. One offers a trial medication to help participants reduce their alcohol consumption, the other uses cognitive behavioral therapy for those abusing alcohol in connection with anxiety.
Ironically, alcohol can both weaken people’s immune systems and put the drinker at risk of engaging in hazardous behaviors that could result in contracting the virus. Farchione is recruiting participants over the age of 21 for both studies, which will last three to four months. And for those anxious about venturing outside these days, both studies are being conducted entirely through Telehealth. Eligible participants may be compensated. Sign up or find more info here.
Ask an SPH expert anything about young adult mental health
Sarah Lipson, a School of Public Health assistant professor of health law, policy, and management, will do a Reddit I/AmA (Ask Me Anything) discussing how to support the mental health of college student populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, at noon on Thursday. Register here; scroll down the schedule on the right side and click on her event. Lipson is co–principal investigator of the Healthy Minds Study and associate director of the Healthy Minds Network. Her research focuses on understanding and addressing mental health inequalities in adolescent and young adult populations, especially college students.
(Still) speaking of mental health
The guest on today’s installment of Spot On! The Real Health and Wellness Podcast is Dori Hutchinson (Sargent’85,’96), a Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences clinical associate professor and BU Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation director of services. The topic? “Quarantined: A Time to Be Kind to Yourself.” The podcast is hosted by Joan Salge Blake (Sargent’84, Wheelock’16), a Sargent College clinical associate professor of nutrition, and you can check it out here or here.
Boston and Beyond News
Mayor Martin J. Walsh talks about higher-ed reopening
Boston’s mayor said at his daily briefing Wednesday that reopening colleges and universities can show the way for other sectors. “Colleges and universities are essential to our city’s identity and economy,” he said, noting a conference call Tuesday with local higher-ed leaders, including BU President Robert A. Brown. “We talked about what reopening looks like and what the campuses will be like. We talked about the difficulties in closing campuses.” He thanked the college and university leaders for pledging to work together. “This work will provide valuable models for other sectors, and we will do all we can to support our colleges and universities, so that we can get back to some sort of normal college experience again.”
And Governor Charlie Baker details student loan relief program
The Massachusetts Division of Banks (DOB) has joined a multistate initiative to secure payment relief options for Massachusetts student loan borrowers, Baker announced Wednesday. The DOB has secured relief options with 15 private student loan servicers to expand on the protections the federal government has granted to federal student loan borrowers. These new options stand to benefit over 182,000 Massachusetts borrowers with privately held student loans.
This response builds on the federal CARES Act, which provides much-needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020, as well as the recently announced Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s deferment of payments in its No-Interest Loan Program until August 1, 2020.
Under this initiative, borrowers with commercially owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. Borrowers should contact their student loan servicer to identify their options, which include:
- A minimum of 90 days of forbearance
- Waiving late payment fees
- Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting
- Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days
- Working with borrowers to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.
Additional information and resources, including a full list of participating private student loan servicers, are in the DOB Consumer Advisory.
Swoosh, here comes the PPE
Nike, Inc., has donated thousands of face shields and powered air-purifying respirator lenses to Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Carney Hospital, the Boston Globe reports. The personal protective equipment was produced at Nike’s facilities in Oregon and Missouri, and the donations were arranged through the Boston headquarters of Nike subsidiary Converse.
US & Global News
Bored with your quarantine menu? Read this
Around the world, 135 million people were already facing acute food shortages before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. With the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry, Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency, told the New York Times. In the poorest parts of Kenya, India, Colombia, and countless other countries, social distancing and loss of meager incomes are rapidly ratcheting up the misery index.
Latest count of coronavirus cases
United States, 835,316; Massachusetts, 42,944.
Distraction of the day:
The BU Alumni Association development communications team asked its scattered student employees to send a few thoughts on video from home (and in one case, a dorm), wherever in the world they’re riding out the pandemic. The resulting video includes lots of pets (check out the look at 1:52—we feel you, pup) and talk of missing friends, Boston, and “the craziness of BU.”
Find BU Today’s latest coverage of the pandemic here. The University’s hotline for faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars to call for referral of their virus-related medical concerns is 617-358-4990.