AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - In light of World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, Dustin Johnson, a licensed psychologist and assistant director for outreach at Auburn University’s Student Counseling & Psychological Services (SCPS), offered tips to students regarding mental health as a priority teetering over the mid-semester mark.
Although 1 in 3 people are living with diagnosable mental health conditions, everyone experiences a disruption from time to time. Due to this, Benjamin Franklin’s words ring truer than ever, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure.” It’s okay to ask for help if you need it, whatever that outreach means for you… may it be extending out a loved one/ friend confidant, or seeking out professional services, such as Student Counseling & Psychological Services (SCPS) at Auburn University. A big struggle for students, approaching peak workload point during the term, is striking a healthy balance between productivity and relaxation. Johnson discusses advice for developing a healthy plan of approach, one which integrates physical activity and socializing friends into a rigorous academic schedule.
Healthy stress, or eustress, can be effective. In fact, it’s proven to contribute to both improved alertness and academic performance. However, it’s important to take note of when eustress leans into the category of unhealthy, or non-confronted stress. To prevent stress from turning detrimental, students must cling to the perception that they have management over their lives, whether or not they actually have control of the situations they are confronted with. A great way to manage stress is for students to efficiently use their study time so that they can also meet their non-academic needs, which are crucial domains of functioning: social life, physical health, and proper sleep and nutrition. When stressful times hit, self-care often gets pushed to the wayside. Yet, ironically it’s times like these where self-care is most critical. Planning breaks, and relaxation, is never a waste of time. In fact, doing so can be extremely helpful since the mind works more efficiently when it’s rejuvenated.
Recently, athletes have played a significant role in breaking the stigma associated with mental health. For instance, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles are two big names that have played a role in replacing these stigmas with a more productive dialogue. Dustin Johnson insightfully points out that, “although most of us in the Auburn Family are not performing in front of millions of people watching them in-person or on television, all of us are performing every day.” When constructive dialogue, pertaining to mental health, becomes the new norm it helps us all relate to each other and eliminate the shame that comes with seeking help.
Joeleen Cooper-Bhatia, a licensed psychologist and associate director of SCPS, suggests group therapy. She finds this offered service to be a useful tool in showing students that they are not alone, and that everyone is required to jump over mental health hurdles at times. Group therapy is an excellent resource and can be especially of help for students seeking feedback from their peers who are fighting similar battles. SCPS offers a number of different topic-specific and general groups therapy programs.
There are several resources for members of the Auburn Family to lean upon in pursuit of maintaining positive mental health. Both undergraduate and graduate students can visit the SCPS website, or call (334)844-5123, for more information regarding individual or group counseling, at no charge. There is also a 24/7 on-call phone service. Another option for students is to come in person and visit the Haley Center office, or the Auburn Medical Clinic location, during hours of occupation to immediately be seen.
Apart from SCPS, ‘A Sound Mind’ is a campus-wide initiative which promotes mental wellness. Health Promotion & Wellness Services and Safe Harbor are two additional services which offer assistance for substance use and sexual assault related concerns.
It is much easier to prevent a mental health disruption from overwhelming you than to recover from having been overwhelmed by one. The Auburn Family is one that looks after one another, and that includes emphasizing the importance of maintaining positive mental health management practices.