Support in Times of Conflict

We recognize that the escalating violence in the Middle East affects everyone on our campus in different ways. Some may fear for relatives in the region, while others worry about friends struggling here. Ongoing images of violence and destruction often evoke sorrow and, in some instances, profound grief and hopelessness.

As painful and distressing as these feelings may be, they also are entirely understandable and normal. 

We are here to support you.

We provide empathy and understanding and, most of all, will work to help you manage these difficult emotions—even when they seem completely overwhelming.

Our first and most important consideration is your immediate well-being:

  • If you are experiencing an urgent safety concern, please contact CWRU Public Safety at 216.368.3333--or dial 911. 
  • If you are experiencing harassment, please contact the Office of Equity at 216.327.4160. 

Below are suggestions for coping, managing stress, and protecting your mental health during this difficult time:

Connect with people: Listen to others and let them validate the feelings that you have. Engaging in social activities or spending time with friends and loved ones can serve as a distraction from stressors and worries. Positive social interactions trigger the release of oxytocin and other feel-good hormones, which can help lower stress levels and promote a sense of well-being.

Be kind: Please be gentle with yourself and thoughtful with others. So many people are having a hard time right now. Coping with such intense emotions requires courage, strength and resilience. Respect others’ emotions and reactions even if you don’t understand them, and be patient as you experience your own feelings and reactions. 

Try to avoid stressful content: Watching violent videos and seeing horrific images can negatively impact anyone’s mental health. Recognize that disturbing scenes and words will affect you, even if you don’t feel a response in the moment. Consider temporarily deleting apps that feature concerning content (especially those that post without validating information) or at least pausing notifications from these apps).

Focus on what you can control: Prioritize your own self-care; try to eat healthy, get the sleep you need, avoid using alcohol and drugs, and exercise when you can. Even activities as simple as a walk, guided meditation or mindfulness exercise can lift your spirits.

Be part of the solution: Even small steps—making a donation, participating in facilitated conversations or even sending a supportive message to someone else—can help alleviate feelings of helplessness. You can also connect with advocacy or support organizations in your area to find ways to take more action together.

Watch for signs that you may need more support: Indicators can vary, particularly when we are responding to traumatic events. Some signs to look for include:

  • Changes in sleep habits (including insomnia, oversleeping, or tossing and turning)
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Declining appetite changes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Constant thinking and rethinking about a difficult moment or experience.

If you continue to have thoughts or feelings that interfere with your normal activities, it’s time to talk with a mental health professional. 

If your emotions feel too intense, last longer than two weeks, are getting worse (or at least not getting better), please reach out to one of the resources listed below for help.

Resources for students

Students can make appointments for same-day or next-day counseling sessions through If you cannot find a time that works for you, please call 216.368.5872.

TimelyCare offers Talk Now sessions – immediate, anytime (24/7), in-the-moment support for students who need to talk to someone. 

In an emergency, please call CWRU Dispatch (on-campus; 216.368.3333) or 911 (off-campus).

Other Resources

National Suicide and Crisis Line: Call 988

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741-741

JED: How to cope with safety threats in your community or the world

Coping with traumatic stress reactions (US Department of Veteran Affairs)

Helping Students Cope: Guidance for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff are essential partners in helping students manage heightened stress and anxiety. Below are some suggestions for helping students to cope.

Engage students: Students value their relationships with trusted faculty and staff. One of the most impactful ways you can help students cope is simply to check in, make a connection, and show concern. Offering to listen—or to hold space for them without the pressure to respond—can make an enormous positive difference. 

Grant grace: We know that one of the responses to stress and distress may be difficulty focusing. Please consider offering understanding and flexibility if students struggle with deadlines or performance.

Encourage students to avoid stressful content: Suggest that students avoid ongoing exposure to news and limit viewing disturbing content. 

Prompt students to ground themselves: Consider incorporating breathing or other mindfulness exercises into classroom work.

Help students recognize when they need more assistance: Acknowledge that anxiety and fear are to be expected in moments like these. Let them know that you recognize that students are working hard to manage their emotions. 

If they share that their thoughts and feelings are taking up considerable energy and space, affecting them physically, or getting in the way of schoolwork, remind them that it can be helpful to talk to a professional. Let them know that University Counseling Services staff will listen to their concerns and offer additional coping skills and treatment if needed. 

As a general rule, consider making a referral if students report thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that:

  • Feel too intense or overwhelming;
  • Last longer than two weeks; and/or
  • Do not improve or get worse over time.

If you think a student needs additional assistance, refer them to one of the above resources and submit a CARE Report through the Office of the Dean of Students. 

Practice self-care: Everyone is experiencing stress and distress, and you cannot support others when you yourself are overwhelmed. Pay attention to how you feel and take time to process your emotions; reach out for more structured or professional support if you need it.