Kent Cru workshop hosts counselor to share his experiences, resources to combat virtual distress

Matthew Knabe (center) speaks with members of Cru and people attending the Cru mental heath event On Feb. 25. At the event, Knabe spoke about the intersection of faith and mental health. 

Hannah Mayer Reporter

When a Kent Cru member witnessed a Kent State freshman cry from loneliness and loss of community, the Christian student group was encouraged to take action and initiate a conversation on mental health.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cru has offered several different virtual opportunities for students and staff to connect including a mental health workshop on Feb. 25 where Matthew Knabe, a licensed mental health counselor at Emerge Counseling Services, talked about the intersection of faith and mental health. 

The leaders of Cru said they noticed the lack of deeper connection has impacted students and created this event as a resource, said Emily Dodson, Kent Cru staff member.

During the event, Knabe discussed topics such as depression, loneliness and anxiety. Knabe said that the impact of the pandemic dramatically increased cases of mental illness. 

“It was a very difficult first couple months of 2020,” Knabe said. “Depression numbers went up; we started seeing anxiety numbers going up.” 

He had such a large “influx of new clients coming in that they [Emerge Counseling Services] couldn’t even handle all of them.”

Knabe used his own personal experiences to explain how closely he feels faith and mental health correlate. He emphasized how much he felt 2020 included new obstacles for everyone and how many are now feeling the mental effects of it. 

“What we’re dealing with on the mental health level is a lot of the ramifications of what happened in 2020,” Knabe said. 

Before and during the event, students were able to turn in anonymous questions regarding faith and mental health. Knabe then spent time discussing his perspective on each question.   

The presentation concluded with a list of mental health resources such as KSU Counseling and Psychological Services, Emerge Counseling Ministries and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Knabe and the Cru leaders encouraged students to use these resources if necessary. 

“Don’t hesitate, do it,” said Dodson when referring to the mental health resources. “You will not regret just having somebody to talk with, to process through with.” 

Other than the mental health event and their winter conference, Cru is currently offering virtual “Cru Connects” where members read through a passage of the Bible and break off into small groups to discuss their thoughts and opinions. This event is held virtually every week on Thursday nights. 

“It’s a great space for people if there’s a question that’s hitting them a certain way,” said Josh Robbins, a Cru staff member and recent Kent State graduate. 

Although there are a multitude of ways to get involved, Emmie Tallman, Cru student member, said that it’s hard to tune in at the end of the day when class and homework are virtual too.

“The motivation is lower for me,” Tallman said. “I’m an extrovert and I’m dead at that point.” 

Cru leaders are fully aware of the Zoom fatigue, but they feel that it is their obligation to provide a resource for their students to connect.  

“Are we just going to sit and let anxiety, fear, depression and suicide fester?” Dodson said. “No, I can’t. I have to enter into people’s lives and let them feel like they’re cared for.”

Hannah Mayer covers religion. Contact her at [email protected]