Our goal as educators is to prepare students for life after college, and one of the things we should be fostering is the belief that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
As students return to campus this semester and the world continues to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many may be experiencing anxiety.
For those struggling, it’s important to know supports are in place at Bridgewater State University to help manage these feelings.
A great starting point is the BSU Wellness Center.
“We all need supportive and caring people to help us navigate the stresses and worries of life, people who can help us get through the ups and downs that we all experience,” said Donna Schiavo, clinical director of the Wellness Center.
Confidential counseling services are offered free, in both individual and group settings. For those not comfortable talking with a counselor, there are online tools and services.
Togetherall is a virtual, peer-to-peer, anonymous support community where students can share their concerns. The online community is moderated by mental health professionals and offers students a safe place to draw strength and gain insights from peers.
Also available is WellTrack, another free online resource that helps students better understand feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and suggests ways to manage these feelings. To register for an account, students can download the WellTrack app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and register using their @student.bridgew.edu email address.
Beyond the Wellness Center, it’s important for students to know that community members across campus are invested in their mental health.
“Being a support system is our biggest draw for students to come in and vent, and ask for resources,” said Diana Mendes, interim assistant director of the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity (LGCIE), located in the Rondileau Student Union.
For some students, there isn’t a safe space at home where they can express themselves, therefore they tend to suppress their emotions.
“When a student is experiencing so many different types of feelings and not being validated at home, that student often suffers in silence,” said LGCIE Interim Director Michael Walsh, adding that many students of color, particularly males, tend to suppress uncomfortable feelings.
Walsh said part of his job is to let students know they do have a place to turn to and that help is always available.
“The LGCIE is a safe place, where students can keep an eye on each other, have conversations and connect with others,” he said. “By having thoughtful, real, careful conversations, we’re able to understand what some of our students are dealing with in terms of their mental health.”
A Quiet Lounge is set up at the BSU Pride Center where students can sit, relax, read, or work on homework. Coloring books, crayons, markers, puzzles, and paper are also offered in the lounge to help students unwind.
“You can always drop into the Pride Center between classes if you’re looking for a place to hang out, meet and be around other LGBTQIA+ people, find out more about different programs, events and social opportunities,” said Pride Center Director Carolyn Taggart. “I’m happy to meet with students one-on-one to assist them in finding resources.”
The Military and Veteran Student Center hosts ongoing events that focus on peer support, including one scheduled for May 4 where students can come together and de-stress during finals week.
This spring the center is also launching a Green to Grad program intended to bolster support for students transitioning from servicemember to student.
“Our goal as educators is to prepare students for life after college, and one of the things we should be fostering is the belief that it’s okay to be vulnerable,” said Brian Duchaney, director of military and veteran student services. “It’s important for us to be building opportunities for students to come together and share their experiences.”
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