Mental Health at South: Achieving balance in the age of COVID-19

By: Dustin Petridge | Lifestyle Editor

On Thursday, Aug. 20,  Amanda Stephens, the area coordinator for Delta Dorm, hosted the third section in a series of virtual discussions called “Being Successful in College”.

This event focused on maintaining mental health in a college environment, and was targeted at incoming freshmen during South’s annual Week of Welcome activities. Considering the University’s decision to reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of students returning to campus, it seemed appropriate to host this discussion in a virtual environment to minimize the risk of further transmitting the virus. With many other events  following suit,  campus life is still thriving despite the circumstances. 

The discussion was set to occupy one hour of the evening, but only used about thirty minutes, possibly due to a few number of students in attendance and a mutual understanding of all concepts presented to participants. Despite the low turnout, the concepts explained in the discussion were significant and appeared to be beneficial, specifically the “eight dimensions of wellness,” an idea that was represented with a graph to help visualize its individual elements. 

The general consensus was that every aspect of the eight dimensions were connected, and that mental health relies on a balance of occupational, physical, intellectual, environmental, social, emotional, financial, and spiritual wellness at one time. While these topics all sound equally important,  Stephens assured the participants that it is up to the individual to decide which is most important for their personal health. 

At the end of the discussion, Stephens noted that the “Being Successful in College” series was being held all week, and that each event was in a virtual format, through Zoom. She stated that the most significant take-aways from these sessions could be understood by attending all of the parts of the series in order to piece together an understanding of success in college from all perspectives, not mental health alone. While some students in attendance mentioned increased levels of anxiety and challenge in reference to returning to campus during the pandemic, a feeling of wanting to succeed persisted in the dialogue.

Stephens specifically mentioned a few mental health resources on campus, including Active Minds and the Student Health Center, both built for the purpose of helping students with any mental events. Overall, the virtual event was a success and provided important insight into maintaining mental health for students during one of the most stressful times in history. For more information on mental health services at the University of South Alabama, you can visit USA’s official website or the Counseling and Testing Center.