Anyone who works with college students knows that maintaining a sound mind is not always a top priority. While intentions of sleeping eight hours a night and drinking enough water may be promising, life tends to get in the way, and self-care may fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
Markie Pasternak, coordinator of outreach and peer education for Health Promotion & Wellness Services (HPWS), and Dustin Johnson, assistant director for outreach and mental health initiatives for Student Counseling & Psychological Services (SCPS), recently joined forces to launch A Sound Mind, a website rooted in mental wellness.
Planning for the website came to fruition in Sept. 2018, when Pasternak and Johnson realized the need for an all-encompassing resource to assist students with a multitude of problems, from stress management to eating disorders and everything in between.
The website has specific information for students struggling with ADHD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, helping a friend, sleep, stress management and self-care. There is also information connecting students to various campus partners, trainings offered, involvement opportunities and resources for faculty and staff.
Pasternak hopes the website will be helpful to a wide array of students who may not be literate in all aspects of mental health.
“Mental health looks different for different individuals with different identities and different lived experiences,” says Pasternak. “We want A Sound Mind to be inclusive and accessible to everyone.”
Pasternak’s position with HPWS came from the Mental Health Task Force, a coalition of professionals and students from different departments tasked with addressing mental health on Auburn’s campus. A specific recommendation proposed by the task force was to “design and implement an integrated communication campaign that incorporates forms of traditional and social media.”
Johnson says that the Mental Health Task Force helped him see how the partnership with HPWS would help both departments collaborate to address and implement the recommendations. Part of this included addressing mental health in a more proactive manner.
“Auburn, like many other college campuses, is having more and more students coming in with mental health concerns,” he says. “We’ve recognized that we need to change the strategy. We can’t just wait for students to come to us. We are really working to get the message out there as more proactive and preventative mental health care.”
While Johnson provides the clinical care for students with mental health concerns, Pasternak and the HPWS team play an integral role in promoting the resources available to students. Both Johnson and Pasternak want students to know that feeling overwhelmed is normal, and seeking help is a brave choice.
“Getting help is a very courageous thing to do,” explains Pasternak. “Seeking out information and education is so beneficial. Leaning on your support system by telling people in your life what you’ve been living with can be very validating. It is a brave choice to seek help, and it is a choice that will change your life for the better.”
View A Sound Mind here. For more information, please contact HPWS at 334-844-1528.
Last modified: 11/19/2019