Ask the experts: Mental and behavioral health during COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 is evident in nearly every aspect of our lives, leading to increased stress and feelings of fear, sadness, loneliness, and helplessness for many. Recognizing and understanding these effects can help us manage our own mental and behavioral health concerns and address the needs of our families and our communities.

This webinar was held Monday, June 22.

Access full video here

  1. [1:50] Panelist Introductions
  2. [6:21] The balance of work and life is always of challenge, and now it is more of a challenge than ever. How can we stay motivated and productive during this time?
  3. [16:01] What practices can we implement at home to improve our mental health?
  4. [22:14] Current circumstances can have a significant impact on anxiety, stress levels, and induce mental health concerns. When should we seek professional help?
  5. [28:21] How can we help our family and friends and colleagues cope with mental health during this time, especially when we can’t be face to face?
  6. [34:02] What suggestions can you give for individuals or families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic?
  7. [38:08] Do you have any tips for instructors returning to their classrooms in fall, as well as and others working directly with UIUC students?
  8. [42:05] How do we address the trauma associated with the higher COVID-19 numbers in the Black population at a time when systematic racism and police brutality are in the national spotlight?
  9. [52:24] What are some tips for managing healthy relationships during this time? How can we maintain social support with friends who don’t take COVID-19 as seriously as we do?


Benjamin Hankin, Professor, Department of Psychology

Prof. Hankin’s research focuses on understanding risk factors and mechanisms in depression and related internalizing emotional disorders, especially in children and adolescents. Much of his work focuses on translating the basic knowledge gained from longitudinal risk studies into evidence-based assessment and intervention work.

Heidemarie Laurent, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Prof. Laurent’s research focuses on defining stress regulation and identifying developmental paths shaping stress regulation, including prenatal and postnatal influences of parental depression. She offers expertise on how practices such as mindfulness can improve stress regulation, and whom such practices are most likely to benefit amid COVID-19.

Karen Tabb Dina, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

Prof. Tabb Dina’s research examines women’s health and mental health with a particular focus on health disparities. Her current research focuses on identifying major risk factors associated with depressive disorders, and approaches for identifying and assessing depressive symptoms in health care settings to improve health outcomes. She brings expertise in public health social work practice and health policy.

Shardé McNeil Smith, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Prof. Smith examines the impact of racial discrimination on mental health outcomes, and the supportive resources used to combat these effects, within the African American family context. She contributes expertise in community healing and other supportive approaches to addressing mental health concerns among African America youth and their families.

Tara Powell, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

Prof. Powell studies trauma recovery and resilience in children, youth, and care providers. Her current research focuses on post-disaster behavioral health in disaster affected communities. She provides expertise in stress-management and coping skills, psych-educational curriculum development, and talking with children about the COVID-19 pandemic.