By the end of the conversation the student will be able to understand the concepts of mental health and stress. This is an opportunity to discuss the importance of maintaining emotional and mental wellbeing, describe some reasons why people might not seek help and identify resources available to people who want additional support.
Mental Health Resource Toolkit
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 immediately.
These are just a few of the resources you or someone you know can use:
- The Jed Foundation has an email newsletter with information on mental health and related resources, as well as a comprehensive website you can browse for further resources
- Centerstone - the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of community-based behavioral healthcare, offering a full range of mental health services, substance abuse treatment and educational services. (Based in Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee - website has a lot of resources as well)
- The National Domestic Violence hotline
- University of Southern Indiana Counseling and Psychological Services
Here are a few recommended articles to check out:
- Common myths about mental health
- 5 things you should know about stress factsheet
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When worry gets out of control
This guide is all about getting support for your mental and physical well-being.
What is mental health? Mentalhealth.gov defines it as: "our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
Looking out for your mental health is important, and neglecting it can lead to negative outcomes.
Looking out for your mental health can...
- Help you realize your full potential
- Empower you to seek the help you need
- Enhance a wide range of emotions, helping you cope in positive, non-harmful ways
Neglecting your mental health can...
- Enhance a wide range of emotions without helping you cope, or influencing you to cope in ways that are harmful to you (bottling it up, heavy drinking, etc.)
- Discourage you from getting help when you need it
- Make you feel like life is out of your control
Stress: Stress happens when there’s a gap between what you need or want to do and what you feel like you’re able to do.
Stress can both be positive and negative - it can encourage you to finish up that assignment or study for that test, but it could also lead to negative mental health.
Here are some key indicators for when you are in distress (from jedfoundation.org):
- Not sleeping enough or sleeping too much
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Experiencing more headaches, muscle aches/tightness, more frequent colds and minor illnesses
- Needing to take deep breaths and feeling slightly light-headed when you think about everything you need to get done or about a situation you can’t control
- Frequently irritable, frustrated, angry, impatient and/or anxious
- Difficulty concentrating and therefore not able to get things done as effectively or as easily as usual
- Feeling overwhelming stress and pressure for more than a few days
Consider your experiences with stress, in your own life and those of people close to you. It’s important to remember that...
- People find different situations stressful to different degrees, but most people feel overwhelmed from time to time.
- It’s important to think about mental health even if you don’t know what to do or think it’s no big deal.
What steps are best to take if you’re concerned about your own mental health?
Consider these steps - they can likely also apply if you’re concerned about a friend’s mental health.
Balance: having all things in life in good measure (maintaining a healthy amount of social, academic, and work-related activities within your day).
Having a healthy balance does not mean you’re happy all the time. Rather, it means you have the opportunity to fulfill your responsibilities, while also having time for yourself.
Strategies for Creating Life Balance
- Scheduling work and play
- Sometimes setting a reasonable schedule for yourself can be a great way of keeping balanced. An example could be studying for 20 minute intervals with 5-10 minutes of break time in between.
- Leaving time for relaxation
- Relaxing does not equate to laziness. In fact, relaxing can help you be a more productive student and person.
- Sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet
- Ensuring that your body is physically healthy is a way to feel energized throughout the day.
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Mindfulness is “being in the moment.” The ability to really focus on one thing at a time takes practice, but can help you be an emotionally-balanced, productive individual.
- Yoga is a great way to learn to breathe properly which can quickly de-escalate feelings of anxiety. It brings about emotional stability and clarity of mind!
What might be easy and what might be challenging about the process of getting support? Did anything surprise you during the role-play?
Resources on Stress
The following are some helpful techniques to work through stress:
- Eat nourishing food
- Take a break and spend time doing a little of what you love
- Talk to your mentor or a friend
- Speak with a counselor
If you’re concerned about someone else’s stress, here’s what you can do:
- Express your concern
- “I’m worried because you seem…”
- “Is there anything I can do to help?”
- “Do you want to talk about it?”
- Listen to them if they choose to share what they are feeling - avoid judgement and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Encourage them to try out some of the resources on campus or the exercises/activities linked in this guide