Mental Health Mondays – “It’s OK to Grieve: Validating Students in a Time of Crisis”

Mental Health Mondays - July 20 Event

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Key Takeaways – July 20, 5:00 p.m.

Kelly Maguire, Founder of Florida SouthWestern State College’s Active Minds Chapter

“It’s OK to Grieve: Validating Students in a Time of Crisis”

  1. Accepting the grief associated with loss of routine, loved ones and social connections since COVID-19
    • Students: Reach out for help and acknowledging that this is a difficult time
    • Avoid the need to compare your grief to others
    • Grief isn’t just the loss of a loved one. It’s a sense of loss in general
    • Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to ending the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide in college students, did a survey of students in COVID-19. Total students that were surveyed: 3,239 (2,086 college, 1,153 high school) April 10-18, 2020. 20% of college students say health has significantly worsened under Covid-19 (high schoolers was 12%, total students: 18%) 56% of college students said relocation impacted their lives since COVID-19. 74% of ALL students are challenged in maintaining a routine due to COVID-19. Source: https://www.activeminds.org/studentsurvey/.
  1. How to validate students in a time of crisis: Active Minds V.A.R. Method: Validate, Appreciate, Refer https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/basic-var/var-steps/
    • Step 1: Validate your feelings. Let them know what they are feeling is OK. It also doesn’t mean you need to agree. Rephrase to understand correctly (“I hear that you’re feeling X, is that right?”).
    • Step 2: Asking for help is hard. Let them know you are glad they came to you for help. Show that you support and care.
    • Step 3: Refer them to the skills and support, and let them know help is available. Refer to self-care strategies and share skills that have help you. If greater support is needed, suggest mental health resources. Actively be there for them. Offer to be with them when they call or go to their appointment. Make plans to spend time with them.
    • From the Active Minds survey: Tools used for self-care: #1 for college student mental wellness: virtual face-to-face time. 55% of all students do not know where to go for help for their mental health – THIS shows why the Refer method below in VAR method is so important.
  1. Finding the “human” in us all – inviting more compassion and empathy into our lives
    • As educators, make it a point to tell students you are learning too and are human. It’s important for students to hear from professors themselves
    • Importance of connection!
    • Acknowledge we are all collectively sharing similar struggles, it’s important to be able to relate
    • From the survey: Students are interacting most with parents (50%) during Covid-19 physical distancing. It’s crucial to connect and show empathy, because we are all in this together. It’s important for parents to connect. From survey: #1 way parents can support students is simply spending time with them (33% all)
  2. The power of sharing our stories and educating others
    • Active Minds primary goal (educate and share!): “Whenever someone takes the brave step of sharing their story, they make it that much easier for the next person to understand they are not alone. Our goal with all stories is to educate and change the conversation about mental health.”
    • In fall, hoping to sponsor MindCon for all of Southwest Florida for students and professionals to share stories
  1. The importance of faculty/staff/student committees on campuses
    • Finding a support network within a campus community. Advice to students: find a group to join.
    • Cultivating a safe environment to freely discuss mental health among all members of the college community
    • Active Minds success due in part to connections with Mental Health Matters Committee
    • From the survey: 69% of college students are still hopeful or extremely hopeful about their future

Questions from viewers:

Q: Do you suggest journaling or creative art as an outlet of self-expression? Something to consider?

A: Our school’s committee is actually discussing the possibility of implementing journaling and creative art workshops into our school’s curriculum. I believe it is fundamental that students have this access to express themselves!

Q: Do they have Active Minds Matter at various colleges or just UF?

A: There are active minds chapters all across the country! I believe there are over 800 chapters as of this year! You can check them out on the active minds website directly: https://www.activeminds.org/programs/chapter-network/.

Q: How can students find out if their college has an Active Minds Chapter?

A: Students can find additional Active Minds chapters here: https://www.activeminds.org/programs/chapter-network/.

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Founded in 2016, Kids’ Minds Matter is a unified movement in Southwest Florida dedicated to advancing pediatric mental and behavioral health services. By developing clinical pathways to screen and treat patients, enhancing public awareness through education, and lobbying for systemic change and sustainable funding, Kids’ Minds Matter aims to align mental health providers, local agencies, the judicial system, law enforcement, schools and faith-based organizations. Kids’ Minds Matter is managed through the Lee Health Foundation.

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