Students: Have you checked in with yourself lately? How are you feeling? Do you have a sense of the resources and activities the University offers to help you cope with the negative mental health effects caused by the pandemic?
This year, the University instituted a Student Self-Care Day on Oct. 14 to encourage young adults who might not yet have self-care skills to take a break from classes to learn.
“It’s important to frame discussions about COVID and mental health around the concept that we’re having a common or normal response—fear, worry, irritability, decreased ability to concentrate, changes in appetite, sleep, substance use—to an abnormal situation,” said Jay Darr, director of the University Counseling Center (UCC).
While some members of the Pitt community have expressed frustration with the day landing on a Wednesday, it was a decision with good cause: To discourage the temptation for students or faculty to travel over a long weekend against the University’s health rules.
Darr said he and the counseling center teamed up with student leaders and campus and national partners to build a slate of interactive events and self-guided activities to help students discover, define and develop new self-care practices.
The events, beginning tonight at 8:30 and continuing into Wednesday, address a range of aspects of mental health.
In an evening prelude to the day of activities, Pitt Program Council will present Exploring Mental Health with Doctor Mike. The conversation will be about mental health in a college setting and in challenging times of the pandemic.
Wednesday begins with activities such as Flex with JuJu, where Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and his trainer Sonia Ruef will guide participants through three strenuous circuit workouts. Participants can win a signed JuJu jersey.
Throughout the day, activities ranging from 15 to 30 minutes will feature discussions with registered dieticians, wellness workshops and explorations of care through creativity like comics. The Center for Creativity will host a virtual open-mic night, and Pittsburgh-based band Meeting of Important People will play at noon.
Visit the Self-Care Day page for a full listing of programming. And a reminder: The spring term Self-Care Days will be held on Feb. 23 and March 24.
‘You’re not alone’
Self-Care Day may be a special event, but it’s one activity among many that the University offers as a resource to students during these difficult times.
The counseling center provides ongoing student programming to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health struggles. During Mental Health Awareness Month, also in October, they’re partnering to offer a Wellness & Resilience Course and provide virtual services such as workshops and Let’s (Tele) Talk.
“You’re not alone in experiencing a wide range of emotions,” said Darr. “The UCC is one resource for seeking assistance whether it’s for yourself or someone else, we’re here to help 24/7 by calling 412-648-7930. Our staff with our own diverse identities—both visible and invisible—are committed to providing services that honor your unique needs, concerns and personhoods.”
Faculty and staff: You have resources too
MyHealth@Work is a health and wellness center that treats a variety of health issues and offers programs to help manage chronic conditions and teach self-care strategies. In addition, Life Solutions is an assistance program that provides a broad range of services to employees and their household members to deal with the stresses of daily life.
If you’re looking to increase your physical activity, don’t forget that the University recently expanded its partnership with Healthy Ride to all employees. Take a free 30-minute bike ride today. Or, check out the variety of virtual Be Fit Pitt and other workouts offered on a regular basis.