HEALING IS NOT LINEAR

By Annie Kadlecek

Fred Rogers, an American TV influence from 1951 to 2001, once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” October is Mental Health Awareness Month and as seen across campus, Malone has provided SFOs focused on mental health for students to attend throughout the month. Sarah Gregory, Area Coordinator of Blossom and Heritage, talked about how the stigma of mental health has begun to break down over the past few years, and so the focus of Mental Health Awareness Month was on the concept of resiliency. That concept is associated with these questions from Gregory, “How can we not give up? How can we fight? And not just settle for ‘I struggle with mental health,’ but how can we wake up every day and say ‘I’m brave and I’m strong and I’m growing and it’ll look different everyday, but there’s hope and it will be good,’ and to hope for that and to fight for that and to find grace in the days that are hard.” Gregory also talked about the motto of “healing is not linear,” emphasizing that healing is a journey that is not a constant progression of forward movement, but one with challenges and relapses and difficult days. Julia Newton, Resident Director of WWF, acknowledged how her role as an RD and as an assistant in the counseling center allows her insight on how mental health impacts college students, and emphasized the importance of finding ways to bring awareness and help to people. She praised the addition of making the mental health events eligible of SFO credit, explaining, “Stress is a huge part of mental health, and I think making something that is educational, that is good for [students], good for their souls- -as I believe mental and spiritual health are intertwined very thoroughly–an SFO credit; it helps people get their SFOs in and thus helps lower their stress and improve their mental health. If you talk to someone who only has, let’s say 3 SFOs, you can tell they’re at a heightened state of mental deterioration, so I think making these mental health conversations SFOs is really helpful, because attending them also makes the student feel like they’re accomplishing something, which, in the midst of a heavy topic, is really important.” college students, and emphasized the importance of finding ways to bring awareness and help to people. She praised the addition of making the mental health events eligible of SFO credit, explaining, “Stress is a huge part of mental health, and I think making something that is educational, that is good for [students], good for their souls- -as I believe mental and spiritual health are intertwined very thoroughly–an SFO credit; it helps people get their SFOs in and thus helps lower their stress and improve their mental health. If you talk to someone who only has, let’s say 3 SFOs, you can tell they’re at a heightened state of mental deterioration, so I think making these mental health conversations SFOs is really helpful, because attending them also makes the student feel like they’re accomplishing something, which, in the midst of a heavy topic, is really important.” The SFOs throughout October took many different forms, such as yoga sessions, QPR training (Question, Persuade, Refer–training for how to help in mental health crises), and a blood drive, as well as speakers, professors, and counselors covering topics on healthy masculinity, addiction, coping mechanisms, and more. Gregory stated that she coordinated SFO topics based on the conversations she had with students on campus as an AC and the issues they brought to her attention. “What made me most excited about mental health awareness this year was that we [res staff] went campus wide,” said Gregory. “Last year I piloted mental health awareness in the women’s residence halls and this year we included the men’s residence halls and we partnered with staff, faculty, the counseling center, senate, and local businesses in the community.” Students across campus were receptive to the events and intentionality of staff in creating the mental health focused SFOs, as they helped create a space where students felt comfortable in sharing what they struggled with and how to be strong and resilient within that. “I felt valued as an individual knowing that there was so much being poured into what is such a serious issue for many, including myself,” said Madi Flading, junior Pastoral Ministry major. “I thank [the creators of these events] for providing us with a space to not be okay in a time that’s so hard for so many.”

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