From Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, Student Development and Counseling Services will host Mental Wellness Week, which aims to bring awareness to common mental health challenges college students face, especially during this unique semester.
A survey conducted in 2013 by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that “anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent).” Now, with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the other factors that it brings into students’ lives, awareness surrounding mental wellness is crucial.
Tiffany Bartell, a full-time counselor with Counseling Services, recommends that all students make time for self-care and recognize that it is perfectly normal and healthy to process their emotions during this time. She said it is a stressful period for everybody, and no one should feel ashamed for needing help.
“One thing to start off with is just to be really kind to yourself,” Bartell said. “If something feels hard, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It has been kind of a challenging year.”
Events for Mental Wellness Week will be held all across campus with promotional material and flyers directing students. The week will start with morning meditations in Talge Hall chapel everyday at 7:30 a.m., with one coping skill introduced for each day. Booths will be located in the Student Center from 10:30 a.m. through 3 p.m., and each day will promote a different aspect of wellness that affects a person’s overall mental well-being.
The different focuses will be physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual health.
“The resources that we’re featuring in the Student Center are all free and included in your tuition,” Bartell said. “We want the students to have an awareness of the support system that’s here. No student at Southern should have to do anything hard or painful alone.”
Dorm worship will be held in Thatcher Chapel each evening at 8 p.m., and will feature a one-on-one talk over mental health with Bartell and a student chaplain. On Thursday, Critical Conversations will be held at 11a.m. in Thatcher Chapel. It will be hosted as a panel-style presentation with students able to send in questions over a slideshow. Critical Conversations will be moderated by Sheryl Kambuni, the Student Association president, and will be available on Zoom.
As it is still important to maintain social distancing, many events also will be virtually accessible. The booths will be available for virtual tours, and students will be able to assess their mental wellbeing using the Wellness Wheel on the Counseling Center’s website.
The week will also include daily giveaways at the booths, with the final one being a pair of AirPods that students can win Friday after participating online. The giveaways are entered by submitting a question in a box, and the collected questions will be answered in an Instagram video the next day. More information will be posted throughout the week on SAU Counseling’s Instagram, @saucounseling.
Bartell emphasized how important it is that students don’t feel intimidated or ashamed if they need to reach out for support. “If you land on campus and you’re having a difficult time, ask somebody. There’s support and there’s help for whatever you’re facing. We have it here.”
For more information regarding counseling or other mental health concerns, call Counseling Services at 423.236.2782.