Friday, Feb. 10, 2023
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I write this note, as I know I speak for the entire S&T community in extending our condolences to the Turkish and Syrian nations and families affected by the tragic earthquake, loss of life and unfathomable destruction.
I remember the days during my youth when, periodically, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel of anxiety or episodes of depression. Then, magically, there would be “light”! “What was I worried about so much?” I would ask myself once the cloud was lifted. After a couple of cycles of darkness and light, I remember noticing that my thoughts were never final and that I shouldn’t always believe everything that I think! Then I gained the courage to seek help when I was sensing the onset of potentially crippling thoughts. I learned then, even decades ago when I was a student, that my alma mater LSU had tools to help me identify when worrying is about to turn into a debilitating disorder. I realized that the mental health counselors were there for me and did not judge me. I became comfortable to seek help.
We all know intuitively that seeking help during the times of depression, anxiety or even emotional stress is the best thing we can do. Yet, unfortunately, the stigma keeps us from getting help when we most need it. Why is it that certain problems are identified and addressed without hesitation while others come with stigma? Say nearsightedness or farsightedness versus hearing problems. With one we sense the problem, seek help, take corrective measures and proudly wear our glasses. Hearing loss and hearing aids? Altogether different!
To our students I say, please know that you are not alone. You are not alone in feeling anxious, depressed or worried and you are not alone when you feel anxious, depressed or worried. Just as you won’t hesitate to seek help when in pain physically, you should seek help when distressed emotionally. Further, I encourage you to encourage your friends to seek help if you sense that they might be worried excessively. Thanks to our professional counselors and staff, you have at your disposal an amazing array of support services in all modalities. I encourage you to sense the onset of any level of anxiety, seek help and thrive by putting your worries behind you.
To our faculty and staff I say, we are not immune from occasional mental distress either. We are all susceptible of course and I encourage you to explore our available services for faculty and staff as well.
In addition to these ongoing available services, during Mental Well-Being Awareness Week, Feb. 13-17, we have coordinated an array of events ranging from guest speakers and workshops, to family night for students with children, to trivia, well-being ambassador training for students, yoga and a craft station.
In the end, I know this: no matter how deep and under we feel today, our thoughts will be different tomorrow, the next day or the next week. During any journey, we will feel elated or dejected just as we will feel encouraged or discouraged. We will have successes and setbacks, acceptance and resistance, and wins and losses. The truth is that there is no person or place immune to the ups and downs of life and regardless of our feelings at the moment, we will do ourselves a great service to realize that our feelings are transient, and that we must muster the courage to seek help if we are to triumph over our moments of despair.
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