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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Thursday, May 14, 2015 08:00 AM, by Dinah Harriger Cummings
Dinah Cummings
Delta Omega/
Texas A&M
Stress seems to be a given in the American lifestyle. We all experience situations and seasons of life that are more stressful than others. We manage stress in our jobs, academic pursuits, relationships, career decisions, health status, etc. Although stress is unavoidable and is sometimes accompanied by negative physical consequences, our culture tends to mistake stress for anxiety.

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.

Dinah Harriger Cummings, PhD, Delta Omega/Texas A&M, is an assistant professor at Angelo State University and wellness committee member for Kappa Alpha Theta.

Posted On: Monday, May 11, 2015 08:00 AM, by Rachel Coulter Ocampo
Rachel Ocampo
Zeta Theta/
Cal Polytechnic State
As women, we tend to wear many hats: mother, daughter, sister, wife, colleague, advocate, and friend, to name a few. During our busy lives, we sometimes forget about the most important role we have: individual. The pressure we feel as women sometimes can cause anxiety, exhaustion, and depression because our lives can sometimes be overwhelming. Because we are so much to so many, it is important for our well-being to make time to practice self-care.

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:

  1. Self-care is empowering because YOU have control over YOUR life!

  2. Remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH! Decreased expectations and pressure on yourself can decrease stress/anxiety/depression

  3. Self-care is an individual process- find what makes YOU happy!

  4. Try new things! Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can also be empowering and exposes you to new experiences.

  5. Women who take care of themselves and practice self-care have less depression, anxiety, and health issues

  6. Laughing and being around those who lift you up increases endorphins, which decreases negative symptoms

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

Rachel Ocampo, Zeta Theta/Cal Polytechnic State, is a behavioral health core program manager for Aspiranet Behavioral Health and Sisters Supporting Sisters advisory board member.

Posted On: Friday, May 8, 2015 08:45 AM, by Melissa Shaub
We did it!

This week via social media and through an email to members, we asked Thetas and their friends to help us raise $25,000 in 25 hours to help 25 children in celebration of our 25-year relationship with National Court Appointed Special Advocates. We are pleased to share that we exceeded our goal! At least 27 children (we are still tallying the donations!) will receive the support of a CASA thanks to the hundreds of Thetas and their friends who worked together to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten!

This 25-hour challenge is just one way Theta remains an ardent supporter of CASA after 25 years. Thetas continually demonstrate their commitment to the cause by serving as volunteers for CASA and, as revealed through this drive, as powerful advocates to spread awareness. Through their fundraising efforts, our college and alumnae chapters provide local CASA organizations with much-needed support in their respective communities. Through donations received throughout the year, Theta Foundation makes quarterly grants to National CASA to help provide essential training, educational materials, and advocacy work that benefit the nationwide network.

No matter how you choose to support CASA, rest assured you are making it possible for a qualified, compassionate adult to fight for and protect a child's right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.

The 25-hour challenge may be over, but the impact of our generosity is only just beginning! Our thanks to Thetas and friends for continuing to spread the widest influence for good and for leading the way for this worthwhile cause.

Learn more about Theta's relationship with CASA and how you can continue to help.

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education and leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 09:20 AM, by Melissa Shaub
For 25 years, Kappa Alpha Theta and National Court Appointed Special Advocates have shared a partnership rooted in a shared belief that every abused or neglected child should be safe, establish permanence, and have the opportunity to thrive. During our partnership, Thetas have been advocates, contributed countless volunteer hours, and provided millions of dollars in support of national and local CASA programs. Unfortunately, the number of children in foster care is rising, and there are thousands of children who do not have a voice because they don't have a CASA.

We know it costs approximately $1,000 a year to fund a CASA volunteer for one child—a cost that is just one third spent for one month in foster care. Throughout our 25-year partnership, Thetas have contributed more than $1.2 million to Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation's grant to National CASA, and in a three-hour period and through $5 contributions, attendees at the 2014 Grand Convention raised enough money so that Theta Foundation could provide 14 children with a CASA volunteer for a year.

Today, we're going to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten children - and we can't do this without you (and your friends). We are a Fraternity of more than 200,000+ members, but it would only take 1,000 of us making gifts of $25 to reach our goal of providing 25 children with a CASA volunteer for a year. Every gift of every size matters—big or small—and every member can make a difference. For the next 25 hours, we are asking Thetas to do what they do best, and to work together, to meet our goal of $25,000 in 25 hours. We know that when Thetas come together to spread the widest influence for good, anything is possible!

Donate today! When filling out the online form, make sure to select Restricted Donation and National CASA so that your donation is credited appropriately. And...follow along with the #Theta25CASA hashtag to receive updates!

The CASA 25th Anniversary Donation Drive is a joint effort between Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and Theta Foundation.

Posted On: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 08:45 AM, by Kristi Tucker
Since 2010, 3,950 women have enrolled in Theta Life Loyal! These women became Life Loyal for many different reasons: to support The Magazine, to help the Fraternity provide better services for our members, or to stay connected to our sisterhood long after their college years.

This program has grown tremendously over the last five years, and continues to grow every day. Help us reach 4,000 Life Loyal members by the end of May! You can enroll at Already a member? Give the gift of a membership to another sister.

Thank you Life Loyal members, promoters, and supporters for five years of success!

Kristi Tucker is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, April 13, 2015 08:30 AM, by Kristi Tucker
Delta Delta/Whitman advisors
To all of our international, district, committee and chapter volunteers, we thank you for all you do! You help our chapters run smoothly, you find updated member contact information, you plan events, and so much more. You donate something that is very precious to each and every one of us—your time.

During National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 12-18, 2015), we ask all our members to take a moment to thank the Theta volunteers in their lives. Visit our Facebook page to tag your favorite volunteer in a post using #ThankaTheta. Visit our Pinterest board to find simple but meaningful ways to show a Theta volunteer how much you appreciate her. Post a picture of you and a Theta volunteer to our Instagram page.

Volunteers are the leading women who help make Theta her best. Check out this list of our volunteers to find a chapter advisor's name, an alumnae chapter president's name, or even your name.

Thank you, Theta volunteers!

Kristi Tucker is the assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

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