Friday, Dec. 3, 2021
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
It takes a village to address campus anxiety, depression and mental malaise.
Late in October, after the midterm grades were submitted, in a message to our campus I wrote “… no matter how you feel today about your grades and life in general, you will feel differently in two weeks,” and WE are here to help.
In the message, I relayed my own first-year experience at LSU where after receiving my mid-term grades, I was nothing short of devastated. I had C’s in two classes where I thought I was getting A’s!
As a new student struggling with a new language, educational institution and culture, I felt lost. I vividly remember feeling inadequate and underprepared with nowhere to go. The combination of my “failures” and dark, long, cold fall evenings sent me into a tailspin.
A caring, alert instructor, Dr. Dan Yannitell, walked up to my desk during a short quiz and, with his hand gently on my shoulder, he said, “Why don’t you come and see me after the class?” It scared me to death since I had barely made a C- on his mid-term test and thought for sure he was going to ask me to drop the course.
“You realize that a C grade is not the end of the world, right?” he said. “You realize you still have three more exams, eight more quizzes and lots of homework to make up for your C, right?”
“Yes sir,” I replied, although I had not looked at it that way.
“May I ask you to see a counselor in the student health center?” he suggested. “They will help you.”
Oh no! He thinks I am crazy, I thought. Then he said, “They will share with you that your feelings are normal and that you will feel differently soon. Just pay them a visit.”
I did, and I am glad that I did. The counselor shared with me that she meets with many students and, to various degrees, they all have anxiety, episodes of depression and feelings of failure. I learned that counseling services aren’t just for those with a diagnosed mental illness, but for anyone feeling anxious, depressed or in need of help.
To our students, I say, if you’re feeling that the struggle is overwhelming, please reach out to our student well-being team. They provide a range of programs and services to help you during stressful times. Or contact our academic support team if you need help with advising and tutoring. Even if you just need to talk to someone, we have counselors available to listen. There’s also an online reference guide to help you find the support you need ranging from personal issues to academic issues, concerning behavior, mental health or medical issues.
Faculty or staff may seek services via the UM System’s Employee Assistance Program, and all students, faculty and staff have free access to Sanvello, a mobile app that can help you manage your well-being. Just search for the app via Apple’s App Store or Google Play. The critical point to remember is that you are not alone in times of stress. Support is readily available to help you work through your transient stressful moments.
Many of the thousands of our alumni who receive this email also know, and can attest to the fact, that even if they didn’t always get the grade they’d hoped in a particular course, they were able to move forward and become successful, not only as students, but in their careers and most importantly throughout their lives.
To all of us on campus, I encourage you to speak up if you are concerned about someone. If you’re not sure where to turn, please reach out to UCARE, our University Committee for Assistance, Response and Evaluation. Even with all the available services the university has in place, it takes all of us to play a part in a comprehensive support network to address campus anxiety, depression and mental malaise.
To be clear, we cannot and should not act as professionals when it comes to mental health issues if we are not trained in that area. We must, however, feel empowered to work in concert with our professional mental health support organizations to help address our campus’s mental health challenges.
Just remember to speak up if you are concerned about someone. After all, it takes a village.
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