PHC’s COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Plan is designed to keep campus and our community safe; however, it comes with some changes to the semester. The academic schedule has been modified to decrease the risk of contamination by excluding breaks. Large events like dances and concerts will have to be reconsidered in order for students to practice social distancing.
With these changes, it’s vital to remember to take time to maintain positive mental health. Student Body Vice President Kayla Schleining has been working with Student Body President Ben Purnell and PHC leadership to drive initiatives that will benefit students’ mental health for the Fall 2020 semester. We talked to her about the projects she's been working on.
Q: What will be the main challenges to students' mental health?
Without breaks, we’re all going to feel very pressured and drained. Even anticipating it, we’re stressing ourselves out. I think that readjusting our schedules, expectations, and yet still working hard and acting as if things are ‘normal’ is going to take a toll on everyone’s mental health. I think that acknowledging and accepting the challenges that we will face is the first step to knowing how to deal with them in a healthy manner.
Q: What mental health initiatives are you and Ben working on to combat these challenges?
Ben and I are working to increase awareness on campus as well as uplift campus culture. Working with Dean Corbitt, we’ve added a mental health orientation section for incoming freshman. Working with Dr. Mitchell, we’re going to advocate for mental health filing—a helpful resource that PHC offers that most students don’t know about.
Students who struggle with diagnosed mental health struggles can file during the add/drop period which allows the administration to make exceptions or provide further assistance for students. Examples include single-person room, assignment extensions, longer test taking time, etc. It's a way for the administration to help the student as best they can.
Q: Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen on maintaining their mental health this next semester?
My biggest advice toward freshman is to not ignore mental health struggles. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or ignored, it’s okay to admit this to yourself. And it’s so helpful to confide these emotions in someone, whether that be a mentor, counselor, close friend, or even just a journal. And of course, pray! Because nobody has better answers for how to address mental health than the Creator of minds and emotions Himself.
Q: Any advice for upperclassmen?
As we feel pressured to find jobs, find a future, and overall grow up into successful people, it’s so tempting to compare our successes and failures to those around us. Too often this results in self-deprivation, despair, isolation, jealousy, sadness, or even hidden hatred. My advice would be to talk to a counselor or trusted mentor about these emotions.
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