From orientation to classes, to rehearsals to practice, to activity meetings, the first few weeks of school may seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are multiple resources on campus that aim to provide students with the tools they need to stay mentally healthy.
Starting this year, the Counseling and Disability Services department is offering a 1-hour “Happy Hour: it’s in your hands” workshop. The workshop is offered twice a week for ten weeks, and teaches students skills that benefit mental health. Designed to be a no-pressure, skills-focused session, it will address topics that many struggle with in their lives, according to counselor Megan Degenstein, the primary leader of the event.
Degenstein is one of Concordia’s counseling staff, and spent the summer at Carleton College, completing training and preparing to lead the sessions from the creator herself.
“She [the creator] noticed there was a big need for people to learn skills to lead a better, happier life. So she put this curriculum together in the hopes that she could reach a lot of people, and it was really successful, people really liked it. She offers this training to anyone who wants to come and learn about it. Then they can bring it back to wherever they are working,” Degenstein said.
The workshop aims to provide students with simple ways to maintain a healthy frame of mind in the midst of the chaos of college. Though it is hosted by the Counseling and Disability Services department, it is not meant to act as a counseling session, but instead, encourage students to think about their own mental health practices.
“It’s a very relatable workshop. Sometimes students are uncomfortable in a group setting where they’re expected to maybe be vulnerable and share, which is understandable. But this allows students to come in and focus more on skills. It’s less intimidating because it’s not all about vulnerability, but it is about things that we all are struggling with at some point in our lives,” Degenstein said.
In addition to the counseling department, other campus organizations make mental health their priority as well. Active Minds, an organization that focuses on removing the stigma and creating safe spaces for discussion about mental health, holds monthly meetings and invites all students to participate. They have hosted events, activities, and worked to have an impact on the student body.
Avyan Mejdeen, a sophomore majoring in global studies and political science, is one of the co-presidents of Active Minds this year.
“I saw how much of an impact it [Active Minds] had on students last year, which is why I signed up to be co-president,” she said. “As a club, we are here to help every student on campus pertaining to mental health.”
One of the pervasive ideas regarding campus mental health is the stereotype of the “happy Cobber.” The image of smiling students, with books or a laptop open in front of them, diligently pursuing their goals and dreams, and never having a bad day, when in reality, this is not the case. There have been multiple initiatives to address this, but according to senior Halie Weaving, the Concordia community may be facing a different kind of Cobber now.
“I think something that has been created, that I think is more dangerous than the happy Cobber, is the busy Cobber. And people trying to one-up each other on how busy they are. That’s causing more damage than the happy Cobber. I think the busy Cobber is taking over now,” she said.
“Many times students forget to take care of themselves because of all the coursework they have and clubs they are in,” she said.
Degenstein has some advice for busy Cobbers, beyond attending the “Happy Hour: it’s in your hands,” event.
“Awareness is the biggest thing. Just be in touch with where are you at and what you are feeling. And if you’re ever wondering if something’s not quite right, or a student feels like maybe things aren’t quite right for me in terms of my mental health, come in and talk to somebody,” she said.
The workshop is hosted on Tuesdays from 3:00-4:00 p.m. or Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Old Main 102. For more information, contact the Counseling Center in their office in Old Main 109A, by calling 218-299-3514, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.