Many chapters are currently recruiting new leading women to join Kappa Alpha Theta. The day a new member accepts her bid and takes her pledge to join Kappa Alpha Theta, we as initiated members have the responsibility to protect the well-being of our members, promote a high standard of excellence in all aspects of Fraternity life, and be a leader in the fraternity/sorority community. As reflected in our mission statement, we have promised to nurture each member throughout her college and alumnae experience and offer a lifelong opportunity for social, intellectual, and moral growth as our members meet the higher and broader demands of mature life. In accordance with these goals, Kappa Alpha Theta does not tolerate any acts that may be constituted as hazing.
The new member process sets the stage for creating a positive experience for each incoming young woman. Officers, advisors, and mentors provide an official introduction to what Theta is all about, and this first impression will last a lifetime. New member programs are designed to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community. Hazing prevention is reinforced through chapter and campus educational programs, encouraging open and honest conversations on how each group, campus, and the greater fraternity/sorority community can cultivate an atmosphere where everyone feels included, safe, and welcomed.
When we educate our members to identify all forms of hazing, even if it is not part of their chapter experience, we empower them with the knowledge of what hazing is, what it looks like, and how to respond if members ever found themselves in a compromising position (i.e., a bystander to hazing, or partaking in another team/organization's hazing practices). With this knowledge, we hope our members would not participate in activities that are seen as campus traditions (e.g., serenades) as they are forms of hazing and counter our ability to foster an inclusive community.
An additional component of hazing prevention education includes providing resources and outlets for members to find professional support. In 2007, Kappa Alpha Theta united with other international fraternities and sororities to found the Greek Anti-Hazing Hotline, available to anyone who thinks they or someone they know have been or may become victims of hazing: 1-888-NOT HAZE (1-888-668-4293).
By continuing to educate and provide resources regarding hazing prevention to our college and alumnae members, we can continue to build on Kappa Alpha Theta's foundation that aims to value each member and encourages us all to live out our values and mission statement.
Help us spread the message that Theta is an organization that strives to ensure every member feels included, safe, and welcome. The #40 Answers to Common Excuses for Hazing campaign is currently underway, leading up to National Hazing Prevention Week Sept. 19-23. Follow along on social media during using the hashtags #40Answers and #LeadingWomenDontHaze.
College is always an emotionally charged time. It is four years of self-development, from deciding your major to finding your home away from home. Some days you could feel unstoppable—you get a great grade on a paper, the cafeteria has your favorite meal, and you got a full night's rest. Other days, you bomb an exam, the coffee machine is broken, and your roommates kept you up all night. For some, it's hard to pick yourself up after a bad day, to quiet the voice in your head kicking you when you're down, saying, "If only you studied more..." or "I'll never be successful this semester." It's hard to keep your head up in the face of defeat, to keep on when the course gets tough, but know it takes more than just dedication: It also takes proper mental health.
National Depression Screening Day is today, October 8—a good time to take advantage of Kappa Alpha Theta's online mental health screening programs. Taking this free, anonymous screening can help you or a friend recognize signs of depression and provide avenues to productively treat depression early on. Please take a few minutes and go to www.SistersSupportingSisters.org to start living better.
During the month of October, we are asking Thetas everywhere to participate in the Love is Louder social media movement to show our love and support to all of our sisters—in Theta, in Panhellenic, in life—and let them know that LOVE IS LOUDER than depression (and anxiety, and self-doubt: We need your help to fill in the blank). Last year, we started to make waves on social media bringing awareness to this issue and supporting our friends (see a sample post in the image above). In 2015, with your help, we hope to make an even bigger impact. Have a conversation at your chapter meeting and share the resources on the Sisters Supporting Sisters web page. Share your photos on social media and tag Kappa Alpha Theta in your post (@kappa_alpha_theta on Instagram, @BettieLocke on Twitter, and tagging @Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity on Facebook). You may also send photos to socialmedia@KappaAlphaTheta.org.
Love is Louder was started by The Jed Foundation, MTV, and Brittany Snow to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood, or alone. You can participate by taking a photo of your hand with "Love is Louder" or "Theta Love is Louder" written on your palm. Please join us in this campaign by sharing your photos answering this statement: "Theta Love is Louder than _____." Tag your photos on social media with the following hashtags: #LoveIsLouder and #ThetaLoveIsLouder. Let Theta love be felt everywhere.
One answer is surprisingly simple: Be there.
A sense of isolation is a risk factor for suicide, and research has shown a strong correlation between social support and decreased likelihood of a lifetime suicide attempt. By living the motto We'll see you tomorrow through lending a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, an empathetic word, or a gesture of support, you are participating in truly meaningful prevention and acting as a part of our mission for the widest influence for good. You're showing those you care about that their presence is valued, their daily struggles are understood, that there is hope for better days ahead, and that you want to share in their story. It sounds a lot like true sisterhood, doesn't it?
Our fraternity was founded on the effort to develop sisterhood and meaningful social support during a time when women were a minority on college campuses and faced discrimination and a distinct lack of support from their male peers and often their academic institutions. Our founders used the bonds of Theta to disempower their loneliness, and we can do the same, not through sisterhood in the colloquial sense—although engaging in new, exciting experiences and creating fun memories also has its place here—but by nurturing the lifelong friendships we have developed with women we know we can count on. For Theta women, We'll see you tomorrow means living our values.
While our bond can be an important contributor to prevention, it is not enough to prevent suicide in the demanding college environment. It does, however, mean that we are often the first to notice when one of our sisters is struggling. If you believe that you or someone you know is facing depression or thoughts of suicide, please visit the Sisters Supporting Sisters website for the resource and webinar on Depression & Suicide Awareness. You can also call the free Talk One-2-One hotline, open 24 hours a day, to speak with a trained counselor about any problem large or small, at 1-800-756-3124.
To become involved with TWLOHA or to learn how you can promote suicide prevention through social media, please visit the TWLOHA website.
And to our Kappa Alpha Theta sisters: You are appreciated, you are loved, and you are a meaningful contribution to the identity of our proud fraternity. To each of you on campuses everywhere, We'll see you tomorrow.
As Mental Health Awareness Week (May 11-17) comes to a close, it's a good time for us as modern women to recognize that this balance between perfectionism and achievement has become an all-too-common problem and a barrier to effective leadership. Essentially, it's a confidence-killing cycle of self-doubt. First, we attempt a task with the standard of perfection, and when that impossible goal isn't reached, we take it as confirmation of our insufficiency. If you count yourself among perfectionists, you'll likely notice it playing out in a sequence of procrastination (a result of our fear that we don't have what it takes), stress (as we scramble to complete the task and wait for the evaluation of our performance), and burn-out (when we can no longer keep up with the cycle). Sure, the results are often of a high caliber, but perfectionists are unlikely to acknowledge the quality of the final product, instead focusing on the minute details that didn't meet their standards.
In contrast, substituting a standard of realistic high achievement rather than a standard of perfectionism allows us to finish with a sense of satisfaction in our work and an improved, leadership-building sense of self-efficacy that encourages us to take on greater challenges in the future and execute them well. The question is, how does one begin to make such changes in their ways of thinking?
- A good place to start is by identifying areas of your life where a standard of "good enough" is truly sufficient. For example, earning an 'A' on an exam is still an excellent score even if you earned a 94% rather than a 100%. Likewise, cooking a healthy meal doesn't have to look like it was made by the Barefoot Contessa. Set realistic goals for achievement in areas of lesser concern to promote exceptional performance in the few places where it matters most to you.
- Remind yourself that it is okay to say "no" to taking on additional commitments if you feel overwhelmed by your current engagements. If you have time to execute a few tasks at a high level, you will be more satisfied with your performance than with many tasks you have to scramble to complete.
- Finally, engage in positive affirmations. Rather than focusing on what you could have done differently, identify the areas of a task where you did well. Remind yourself of those achievements, however small, to build confidence for future endeavors and reduce the fear of failure that fuels perfectionism. For example, an affirmation such as, "I've done well in all of my past races, so I will most likely do well in this one" is better fuel for your next 5K than focusing on the fact that you didn't complete your last race at a faster pace than your running buddy.
With the numerous roles Theta women take on, the demand on our time, skills, intellect, and emotions is higher than ever. If you feel overwhelmed with your current commitments and the high standards associated with them, you are not alone. Take the mental health screening on the Kappa Alpha Theta website to assess if you may need help, or visit your campus counseling office or local mental health professional.
During Mental Health Awareness Week (May 11-17), it's a good time to understand the difference between stress and anxiety. Although they are both certainly related, stress is rooted in external circumstances and situations, whereas anxiety is an internal emotional response of fear and worry that remains even when the external stressor is gone. So, anxiety is an overwhelming fear and helplessness that persists despite our circumstances, and interferes with the ability to manage our daily lives.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America tells us that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million Americans, and that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed as men. In a little over a decade, anxiety and depression rates have doubled, and the suicide rate has tripled in the U.S. Access to mental health services proves critical during the college years given that the typical age of onset for many mental health conditions is 18-24. College campuses across the country have seen a significant increase in students seeking help for anxiety-related conditions. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 75% of individuals with an anxiety disorder will experience symptoms before the age of 22. College presents the perfect set of environmental stressors (from a new environment to social pressures to major life decisions) that, when combined with internal factors, increases one's risk for anxiety and depression.
Ranging from generalized anxiety disorder to obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic attacks, anxiety spectrum disorders come in many shapes and sizes, and symptoms manifest uniquely in each individual. Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with other conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and sleep disorders.
Kappa Alpha Theta's Sisters Supporting Sisters Initiative is such a valuable resource for our collegians not only in educating our members about mental health issues but also by helping connect them to campus resources. Theta sisters have been supporting each other long before we had an official mental health initiative. In my own life, it was a Theta sister who encouraged me to seek help for anxiety during our sophomore year of college. I can honestly say that her intervention and encouragement changed my life. I am so thankful for Theta and the supportive friends who walked with me through a difficult season.
The good news is that treatment outcomes for anxiety are quite favorable; unfortunately only a third of individuals suffering with anxiety seek help. Getting that help early is so important to effectively treat and manage anxiety. Treatment options typically include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Anxiety disorders do not develop overnight, so effectively managing stress can certainly be an effective prevention strategy.
The concept of self-care can be quite overwhelming in itself, as society sometimes places certain expectations on the definition of self-care. For some it is yoga or Pilates. For me, self-care is journaling, listening to music, talking a walk, talking to a friend, eating a piece of candy, taking pictures, or my commute home. That is the time I take for myself to focus on me and not everything else happening in my life. Taking that time, whether it is 30 seconds or an hour, helps me make myself a priority, which is important. Self-care also happens through routine things like seeing the doctor or dentist, scheduling time to eat lunch (because this is something that does not happen if I let life and work get in the way), getting enough sleep, or even taking time to get ready in the morning. I have become aware of how rushing to get my family ready in the morning and then not taking time to get myself ready can have a negative impact on my day, which is not fair to myself. Making myself a priority is the ultimate self-care, because no one else is going to know what my needs are better than myself.
Today begins Mental Health Awareness Week (May 11-17). Here are some important thoughts on self-care that I have learned from being a woman, daughter, student, wife, and therapist:
- Self-care is empowering because YOU have control over YOUR life!
- Remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH! Decreased expectations and pressure on yourself can decrease stress/anxiety/depression
- Self-care is an individual process- find what makes YOU happy!
- Try new things! Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can also be empowering and exposes you to new experiences.
- Women who take care of themselves and practice self-care have less depression, anxiety, and health issues
- Laughing and being around those who lift you up increases endorphins, which decreases negative symptoms
- It is okay to say NO if we do not feel that we can or want to do something! Saying no helps decrease pressure and stress that comes with overextending ourselves.
- Respect yourself and do not let others negativity effect your mood!
Most importantly, self-care is what you make it! Whichever way you choose, make sure that the process is something healthy and not something that causes more stress to your life. Take the time to care for yourself so that you can be a better person for yourself and those in your life.
Learn more about how Kappa Alpha Theta raises awareness through the Sisters Supporting Sisters program , and the take a mental health screening to assess if you might need help.
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