Do you know someone who is affected by depression, general anxiety, an eating disorder, or other mental health issue? Because many women on college campuses are affected by mental health challenges, Kappa Alpha Theta started a mental health initiative called Sisters Supporting Sisters. This program is designed to increase the dialog concerning and support for all aspects of mental health, with the goals of creating a safe environment for members to discuss mental health issues, providing guidance for recognizing signs of and helping members with mental health challenges, and supporting members facing mental health challenges and disorders. The two primary services provided are a screening website from Screening for Mental Health and a hotline called Talk One-2-One, provided by the company All One Health. The Talk One-2-One hotline is available to all undergraduate Thetas and their advisors and the screening site is available to anyone. These resources are free due to the generous support of Theta Foundation.
The online screening website is user-friendly and a wonderful resource. The screening reveals if your answers are consistent with a variety of disorders from general anxiety to post-traumatic stress (please note the screenings cannot diagnose). It helped me reflect on the way I had been feeling over the past couple of weeks and suggested articles for me to read to help further my understanding of the complexities of various conditions.
I was able to take the screening as many times as I wanted. It helped provide insight as to how I was feeling and validated my thoughts. I also learned that I could call the Talk One-2-One hotline if I wanted to discuss the results of the screenings or talk about any other apprehensions I had. (The 24-hour hotline is confidential and free of charge for undergraduate Thetas and advisory board members.) It was very reassuring to me to know that there are unbiased counselors with whom I can speak when I feel overwhelmed or anxious. I am grateful to Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation for providing such a wonderful and important resource to myself, advisors, students, and others who are on college campuses.
May is Women's Health Month, and as it quickly approaches, I have found myself reflecting more on my intended career path and the importance of caring for myself. Although my time as an educational leadership consultant has been truly life-changing and more than I ever could have asked for, I am very much looking forward to my matriculation into medical school in 2018. However, until then, I have the privilege of serving the Fraternity for a second year as an ELC!
This upcoming year, I want to prioritize my health, and I encourage you to do the same.
- Exercise. In my time as a based consultant at the Colorado School of Mines, I have embraced the Colorado lifestyle! The beautiful weather and multitude of outdoor activities left me no excuse not to. My based ELC partner and I have enjoyed hiking, swimming, and enjoying the sunshine as much as possible. Working out in the gym can get tiresome after a while, so I have enjoyed switching it up!
- Wear sunscreen! have on occasion forgotten to protect my skin while enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains and suffered the consequences. Fun fact: You experience a 4 percent increase in UV exposure for every 1,000 feet you climb in elevation. That means in Denver, I get about 24 percent more sun than when I am at home!
- Regular doctor visits. Find a doctor who suits your needs. Get annual physicals from both your primary care physician as well as your women's health professional. The latter can also assess your risk for breast cancer and uterine/cervical cancer, and give advice on reproductive health and safe practices!
- Healthy eating. Although this is probably the biggest struggle on this list for me personally, I have challenged myself to eat more healthful fruits and vegetables and fewer processed simple carbohydrates. This is especially difficult when I am travelling! I am looking forward to spending the summer as an ELC summer staff member in Indianapolis, where I can seek out local foods at the farmer's market (a summer favorite in Indy!) and try new restaurants with healthful options.
As this school year winds down and I reflect on my experiences, I am amazed at the progress I have made professionally and personally. I am incredibly grateful to return next year as a second-year consultant and hope to continue this progress and growth—including my newfound health goals! What have you committed to lately to improve your health?
As a full-time traveling educational leadership consultant, I spend a large chunk of my time on the road and live a life full of constant changes. I have been to 11 different cities in the past nine weeks, and the semester is only halfway done! With this exciting but busy schedule, I've consolidated a number of strategies to help refocus and re-energize myself in my personal and professional endeavors. Each of these mid-semester mood-lifters can be done in 15 minutes or less and can be adapted to fit your individual lifestyle.
- Prioritize your to-do list. And actually write-down the things you need to accomplish. Sometimes it can feel as though there is so much to do and so little time. Spend a few minutes in the morning planning your day, and be sure to cross off tasks once they're completed. Actually seeing your accomplishments checked off will encourage you to do more. You can choose how much you want to put on your do-list each day, but be consistent.
- Revisit your goals and objectives. The middle of the semester is a great opportunity for chapter officers to gauge progress on their individual objectives, in addition to the chapter's goals. Reach out to committees or members to help with a sisterhood event or service opportunity! See where you stand with your plan and find the motivation to continue in the right direction. Revisiting personal goals is a great way to maintain self-care and happiness, too.
- Be intentional about breaks. Turn on your favorite song and take a walk around the block. The 15-minutes of exercise will give you a boost of endorphins, as will listening to music that you love! Rainy day? Read an interesting article, do a crossword puzzle, or phone a friend to catch up with. Set a time limit, and when the break is over, put away all distractions until your next break.
- Acknowledge your frustrations—and conquer them. It's OK to not be OK all the time. Spend five minutes thinking about what's frustrating you, what has been upsetting you, or what issue you want to resolve. Spend the following 10 minutes creating a plan to solve or address those problems, then let them go. It is never worth it to sweat the small stuff or stress over things out of your control; work to improve the things you can.
- Look at the big picture. Taking a brief step away from any focused environment provides a breath of fresh air and a renewed perspective of the task at hand. What is going to matter a week from now? A month from now? A year from now? Remind yourself of the big picture goal and the necessary steps to for achieving that goal.
What tips and techniques help you lift your mood? Share in the comments below!
Next week we recognize World Mental Health Day (October 10). According to the National Institute on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the U.S experiences a mental health issue in a given year. And in Canada, the same percentage of adults experience mental health issues in their lifetime, reports the Canadian Mental Health Association. With stats like these, we all should be aware of mental health issues, both for ourselves and for our sisters.
Here are three ways you can care for your own mental health.
- Get a checkup: Today, October 6, is National Depression Screening Day. Kappa Alpha Theta offers screenings for college students, alumnae and the general public as part of the Sisters Supporting Sisters program. Sisters Supporting Sisters helps to create a safe space for women to talk about mental health. Anyone on a college campus with a Theta chapter can access the screenings. Sisters Supporting Sisters also provides education for recognizing signs and symptoms and support for women who are dealing with any sort of mental health challenge or disorder.
- Talk it out: Most college campuses have a counseling center staffed by certified counselors who can listen and help with a variety of problems. All you have to do is call and set up an appointment! Kappa Alpha Theta also provides a service called Talk One-to-One that gives members the chance to speak anonymously with a certified counselor on the phone. Whether you are concerned about a friend or yourself, this hotline is available 24/7.
- Join a group: Lots of college campuses have organizations aimed at supporting individuals who are dealing with mental health challenges as well as groups that strive to raise awareness about mental health initiatives. These organizations are a great way to continue to learn as well as give and receive support.
It is so important to be mindful of your mental health and to remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it. If you thought you had broken your arm, you would definitely go see a doctor. So if you are sad or stressed or anxious and it doesn't seem normal, why wouldn't you utilize the resources available to make you feel better?
Kappa Alpha Theta is so proud of this mental health initiative, and we want to make sure that our members feel supported no matter what. To learn more about Sisters Supporting Sisters or take a screening, visit our website.
Mental health affects everyone. In fact, all people fall somewhere on the mental health spectrum, from a positive to a negative state of mental health. So, what exactly is mental health? The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." Every day, we deal with our own mental health and some days are better/worse than others. May is Mental Health Month, and it's a good time to learn how Sisters Supporting Sisters can help you, and the people around you, on those more difficult days.
Sisters Supporting Sisters is a mental health initiative by Kappa Alpha Theta to help support members with all of the various factors impacting one's mental health. Sisters Supporting Sisters is able to do this by providing online resources for college chapters and advisors to recognize and offer guidance to members who may be encountering mental health challenges. The resources provided range from topics such as body image to depression, but the website also offers information on a confidential, 24/7 hotline called Talk One-2-One. Talk One-2-One is a free service for members of Kappa Alpha Theta to talk with a counselor on the phone at any time, even during school breaks.
No one is alone in their challenges with mental health. If you, or someone you know, is having difficulty dealing with the state of their mental health, please seek out help, whether that is with the Sisters Supporting Sisters resources or with a on-campus or community professional.
As the semester comes to a close and finals are fast approaching, it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed with the amount of work to be done before summer break. As I visit campuses, I have seen a few great ways chapters are incorporating positive mental health into their last few events before finals. Here are three easy ways to bring programming to your chapter to prepare for this demanding time:
1. Sisterhood Spa Night: Recently, I have seen more and more chapters planning sisterhood spa nights. An easy and inexpensive sisterhood event, you can grab some face masks and nail polish, and play some relaxing spa music! You can make a massage train or even hire a campus masseuse (many campus wellness/health centers have massage therapists who do free or very cheap massages - they can sometimes even bring a massage chair to you!). This is a simple and fun way to get members together to relax and enjoy each other's company prior to finals.
2. Host a Mental Health Education Night: May is Mental Health Month. With the stress and anxiety that finals can bring, it is a great time to have a chapter discussion about mental health, depression, anxiety, and coping. Sisters Supporting Sisters provides many resources for members to educate and learn more about mental health. Additionally, chapters can connect members to Talk One-2-One, a 24/7 confidential hotline for members to speak with a qualified counselor.
3. Connect Members to Useful De-stressing Applications: If your chapter is unable to schedule an event, the following are great resources for all members to schedule their own relaxation time. Each of these applications (free on the iTunes AppStore) provides a guided mediation/relaxation sequence - a simple and easy way to find a bit of relaxation during the stressful finals time!
- Relax+ with Andrew Johnson
- Stop, Breathe, and Think
- 5 Minute Relaxation
Is your chapter incorporating mental health programming into your final weeks on campus? Are you holding an event different than the ones listed above? Let us know your ideas in the comments below!