The energy on campus is palpable. LSU defeated Alabama in football for the first time since 2011. Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner. Before we know it, we will be tipping back our eggnog to celebrate another semester completed and watching the Tigers embark on their maiden voyage into the College Football Playoff.
Between prepping for epic tailgates, buying presents for family and pulling out our fat pants in preparation for turkey and dressing, we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of ourselves. We all need to take a moment to breathe.
While exciting, this time of year can be a major source of stress in our lives, and it is important for us to invest in self-care and wellness. It is vital to know what resources are available to let off steam. Many students don’t know about the mental health infrastructure on our campus. We pay money every semester to fund the services the Mental Health Center provides. It is a travesty many students don’t even know the Mental Health Center exists. Can you imagine paying every semester for a phone that you never touch?
The staff at the Student Health Center are constantly thinking of ways to reach students where they are and increase the number of students who use their resources. They conduct an extensive presentation for incoming freshmen during orientation in which they explain warning signs of stress and provide information about the resources that they provide to help with mental health issues.
Recently, the Student Health Center partnered with a company called MindWise that provides an online screening tool. This tool is a brief survey that students can take to see if they are showing any signs of mental health issues. The online survey is anonymous and does not require personal information from the respondent, but the staff of the mental health center is given analytics to see trends of mental health issues on campus. This tool is available through the Student Health Center’s website.
When I started at LSU, one of the first things that I did was download the LSU iPhone app. Over the last four years, I have relied heavily on the accessibility of Moodle, MyLSU and other services available on the app. I would not know how to make my way around campus without the campus map on the app.
I recently saw the app added a new tab specifically for new students. This has a resources tab for new students including: common University terminology, important places, and tips from previous freshmen. While these are all helpful, what stood out to me was the additional resources drop-down menu that is completely empty.
The LSU app should also use this tab to let students know about the resources of the Mental Health Center, including a link to the MindWise screening. This would not be difficult for LSU IT to implement. It would increase the availability and accessibility to a resource that is severely needed, especially at this time of year.
So, as you prepare for the holiday season, remember to take some time for yourself and remember that there are students on campus that may need the most help during this time of year. Join me in my crusade to get the word out about why mental health matters.