COVID-19—Students lift each other up through social media
Veterinary students are taking advantage of social media to promote positivity during the pandemic.
Families across the globe are feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have lost their jobs or had to cut back hours. Those at the front lines are risking their very lives to provide care for the sick, and anxiety and depression are skyrocketing.
Veterinary students have not been immune to this crisis. In March, all U.S. veterinary schools canceled in-person clinics and on-campus classes, and moved everything online. Graduations, white coat ceremonies and award days were also canceled. These abrupt changes have left many students feeling sad, depressed and anxious.
To help rally hope and promote positivity during these challenging times, several veterinary students took to social media to lift one another up through discussions of hope, inspiration and encouragement.
Veterinary students around the world are participating in pandemic-related hashtag challenges, including #TakeBack2020. This movement, led by fourth-year veterinary student Danny Sack, encourages others to accept the challenges facing us in 2020 and maintain a positive outlook for the rest of the year. Students have shared examples of positive moments from this year, discussed what they are looking forward to and offered words of encouragement to their classmates.
Check-ins: ‘How are you doing?’
Another way students are encouraging their peers during these tough times is simply by asking via social media how everyone is doing. The user posts a picture with a caption asking how everyone is doing and also shares something about how they are feeling. This is a great way to ignite a conversation and help others process their emotions.
The Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) started the #VetMedUnitedDay campaign a few years ago with the goal of raising awareness about mental health, personal wellness and suicide prevention in the U.S. veterinary community. The movement was celebrated this year on April 4. SAVMA members from veterinary schools across the country shared pictures, stories and videos to encourage their fellow students and to reassure them that they aren’t alone.
Last, but certainly not least, students are participating in a record-breaking number of Instagram Live videos, joining with veterinarians, mentors and industry thought leaders to discuss current issues or participate in educational lectures. I have teamed up with Kelsey Carpenter, RVT, a few times to host "Would You Rather?" (veterinary edition) games to lift people's spirits. Instagram Live offers many creative ways for students to share what they are currently doing, and it has all been positive!
Although social media is often associated with poor mental health because of bullying and negative posts, I am genuinely thrilled to see how veterinary students are using it to become a positive voice during this pandemic.
I may be biased, but I think our mentors have fostered a future generation of amazing young veterinarians who will do so much good in the world. If you find yourself spending time on social media, join the conversation and make someone's day!
Trusten Moore is a fourth-year veterinary student at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Calif. He is known as @drmoore.studentvet on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.