LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2022) — Since 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized World Mental Health Day (WMHD) on Oct. 10 with the objective to raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
As the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic another global crisis became harder and harder to ignore — mental health. Further fueling the issue, the pandemic drove up numbers for short and long-term stresses, undermining the mental health of millions.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of anxiety and depression among college students have increased substantially. A recent study found that 1 in 3 college students experiences depression and anxiety. The University of Kentucky community is not immune to these statistics.
“The mental health challenges many people have experienced over the past few years have a lot of us talking about how to best serve students,” Corrine Williams, acting associate vice president for student wellbeing, said. “Many units in the Office for Student Success have really supported students throughout the pandemic and the university’s focus on student mental health, and really overall student well-being, has not waivered.”
As we as a nation and a university rebuild and reconnect, WMHD provides us with an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health.
UKNow worked with units in the Office for Student Success and spoke with their student employees to see what advice they had for fellow students, especially in relation to programs that their unit provides, and how they prioritize their own mental health.
- There are so many programs and resources at Campus Rec that help with mental health. One of my favorite ways to prioritize my mental is by working out at the Johnson Center! Moving my body and being active really helps me de-stress. They offer so many group fitness classes, intramural sports and outdoor adventure trips, so if working out solo isn't your thing, there is still a way to get involved.
- Some of my favorite programs outside of my office right now are the Stuckert Career Center and Student Organizations and Activities. I'm graduating in December, and I want to be as involved as I can during my last semester, so I love going to all of the activities that are happening on campus. It has also been really helpful to have so many resources available from the career center to help with my resume and job search.
- I would recommend that students take advantage of resources like Integrated Success Coaching. A resource like this is especially helpful when students are feeling overwhelmed with the combination of classes, extracurriculars and trying to juggle self-care. In meeting with an integrated success coach, students are able to develop skills and habits that help promote a lifestyle where they can make time for all that is important to them.
- I am able to prioritize my own mental health by making sure to schedule time to do things for myself that are not related to school/extracurriculars. This varies from taking time to grab coffee with friends sometime during the week or carving out time at night to read.
- Remember to take care of yourself first. Sometimes we can feel like we are being selfish when we say “no” to someone or take time for ourselves. There is a difference between being selfish and being a selfish being. Being selfish to take care of yourself is about taking good care of yourself so you can be a good healthy being. Here are some tips:
- Better Eat: Some ways to participate in self-care is to eat better. Don’t get crazy and think you have to change your eating habits completely at once but eating better can simply mean adding some “good healthy stuff” to your diet so your body thanks you.
- Exer-Size: It’s also important to exer-size. Notice how that is hyphenated. That’s because again, we’re all busy, adding a whole exercise routine to your life might just throw you over the edge — so don’t. Think of easy “sizable” ways you can do little things that help, like parking further away so you have to walk or instead of sitting at Starbucks with a drink and a friend, have a walking socialization discussion.
- Socialize: If socializing with your friends and spending time with family or other loved ones makes you feel good, do it. Prioritize it in your schedule.
- Get Real: And be sure to get face-to-face with the world ... NOT electronics. When you’re with someone, be WITH them, not distracted by your phone. Be present (being aware of everything that’s happening in the moment), it’s not only a gift to yourself but also a gift to them as well. Nothing is so important that you can take time to be present for others.
- Consumption Caution: When we ingest mood-altering substances, it can negatively affect our emotional well-being. And yes, alcohol and caffeine are mood altering substances. Prescription medication, over-the-counter medications and recreational drugs if overused, can alter mood. Over or inappropriate use of any mood-altering substances can make it harder to attain and sustain optimum emotional well-being.
For more information on mental health services at UK, students can utilize TRACS (Triage, Referral, Assistance and Crisis Support), a physical and virtual one-stop shop where students can come for a quick referral to support services or receive direct clinical support for a range of mental health needs and crises.
Services are offered in-person and virtually, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information on TRACS, visit http://go.uky.edu/tracs.
At the University of Kentucky, students are at the center of all that we do. From the moment you become a Wildcat through graduation and beyond, the Office for Student Success is committed to supporting you. Comprised of five areas and 25 units, together, they have one vision — to help students live a life of meaning. Student Success works through an equitable, holistic and inclusive lens to design and deliver unparalleled services and support a diverse community of learners in achieving their wildest ambitions. In the Office for Student Success this is what we do — this is who we are. You can explore resources available to you here. If you have additional questions, you can reach a Student Success team member by calling the helpline 859-218-YouK (9685).