Will Frankenberger, MJ’s Health Promotion Consultant, presented a session on the coming mental health crisis, especially as it relates to chapter housing, at the 2021 MJ Housing Forum.
Rates of mental illness on campus that were already concerning prior to the onset of the Covid-19 are skyrocketing: one in three college students are suffering from depression and even more have anxiety disorders.
Women’s fraternities and sororities are being called upon to educate their members and volunteers in this area of growing need. From a risk management standpoint, we always recommend that students reach out to their respective campus mental health professionals; however, the mean student-to-counseling-staff ratio at colleges and universities is 1,737:1, according to a survey of counseling center directors. Clearly, the campus counseling services are unable to handle the sheer number of students in need of help.
We have researched several affordable options that you may want to share with your members and volunteers. If you have additional suggestions, please send them to Sara Sterley, Director of Risk Management Education, so that she can continue to update this resource for our client’s use.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
One of the options available for mental health well-being is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI defines a mental illness as a “condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.” NAMI also states that the first thing those who have or think they might have a mental illness need to know is that “you are not alone.” NAMI provides a variety of resources, trainings, information, programs and tools to help, including:
- Warning Signs and Symptoms – There are many types of conditions classified as mental illness, and each illness has its own set of symptoms. Knowing the signs and symptoms is important as a self-help tool as well as a way to help someone else in need.
- Mental Health Conditions – This section offers information such as an overview, treatment, support and discussion groups for a variety of conditions, including:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Bipolar disorder.
- Eating disorders.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- NAMI Blog – Provides blog posts on a variety of topics related to mental illness and well-being. Readers also have the option to search for a specific topic or search by categories or through the archives.
- Video Resource Library – Videos of inspirational stories, public service announcements, education shorts and more.
- Support Groups – Peer-led groups offering participants an opportunity to share their experiences and gain support from other attendees.
- NAMI HelpLine – Available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday at 800-950-NAMI (6264) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor to receive free 24/7 crisis support via text message.
- Warning Signs of a Mental Health Crisis – Infographic quickly outlines warning signs and what to do in a mental health crisis.
- Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency – Guide outlines what can contribute to a crisis, warning signs that a crisis is emerging, strategies to de-escalate a crisis, available resources and more.
Mental Health America
Mental Health America is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental illness. The organization has offices and branches around the country, and a comprehensive “finding help” tool that includes self-assessment tools, links to finding someone in your community to talk to, and even tips on how to make the most of your relationship with a therapist or social worker, as well as a crisis number you can call in case of emergency (1-800-273-TALK).
Additionally, Mental Health America offers resources specifically geared toward college students, and they’ll help with other aspects of your life that may be impacted by mental health issues.
One of the best and most overlooked services is the 211 service that most municipal areas have. You can dial to find out about mental health, counseling, or other resources available in your community and beyond. The FCC’s “Dial 211″ info page has a wealth of information about what you can learn when you call them.
They don’t offer mental health and counseling services directly, but they can refer you to appropriate services in your area. 211 is free, but some of the services they have access to aren’t, so keep that in mind.
Talkspace is one of the original online therapy companies that enables users to connect with licensed mental health professionals based on their individual needs. There are various subscription levels available depending on one’s budget and needs.
Additionally, Talkspace offers corporate discounts for organizations who may want to offer the platform to their members.
Apple’s 2017 App of the Year, Calm is an app that helps you build a meditation practice that has been proven to help alleviate stress and anxiety. In addition, there are options to aid sleep. It really helps to develop a daily practice, and also enjoy a moment of calm and peacefulness when the day becomes too stressful. Many of the meditations are free, but some of the sessions are locked unless you subscribe.
What’s up is a free app that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help users cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and more. What’s Up offers additional resources and services to large groups like sororities to boost the mental health of their constituents.
Headspace is another free app that is rooted in the science of meditation. It has series of guided and unguided meditations, and plenty of other relevant content to listen in your own time and at your own pace.
SuperBetter is a game focused on increasing resiliency, strength, and optimism. When people played SuperBetter for 30 days, their moods improved, symptoms decreased, and self-belief in achieving goals increased, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania. SuperBetter is designed to help users adopt new habits, strengthen relationships, complete meaningful projects, and achieve lifelong goals. If you still don’t believe that a game can do all of that, watch this viral TED talk from the game’s designer.
Happy to help
This is obviously a huge issue to get our arms around. Let us know how we can come alongside you to bolster the mental health of your members, volunteers, and employees.
Unofficial Houses: What, Why, & How – In this episode, Allison and Sara discuss what we call “unofficial houses.”
Emotional Support Animals: An Evolving Approach – This episode contains an excerpt from our Housing Forum on the Road series discussing various approaches to Emotional Support Animals.
Mental Health Awareness Month – In this episode Sara and Allison share some recent mental health resources that they have loved for Mental Health Awareness Month.
Athletic sports embody everything about the competitive spirit while teaching players about team dynamics and the rules of fair play. But there is some degree of risk in playing the game – especially if the limits of strength, endurance and speed are pushed. “Athletes who push the limits sometimes don’t recognize their own limitations…,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can lead to injuries and illness, including sprains and strains, heat illness, concussions and heart failure.
Educational institutions, both public and private, and parks and recreation departments that sponsor competitive sports programs should have a safety and health program that promotes sound practices to help athletes play it safe and stay healthy. Programs may vary depending on the age of participants and the level of competition. In all cases, they should be reviewed routinely to help ensure they are current and comply with applicable state laws and athletic association bylaws as appropriate. They also should review the best practices promoted by athletic associations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Federation of State High School Association, state high school and middle school athletic associations and coaches associations, among others.
Coaches, athletes, school officials and parents all play an important role in helping to ensure safe practices in competitive sports. When a player is not playing it safe or a health issue or injury is suspected, the player should be taken out of play. In instances of an injury or suspected injury or health issue, the player’s condition should be evaluated (including, as appropriate, an evaluation by a medical professional) and the player not returned to the game or sport program until medically released for play. Coaches and athletes should be trained in the signs and symptoms of health-related issues during conditioning, practice and play, including for heat illness, concussions and heart failure, among others, and take timely and appropriate responsive action to help mitigate the health impact.
Competitive sports – playing it safe programs and practices
Athletic programs should include sound risk control principles to help in injury prevention. Some program principles include, but are not limited to:
General risk management principles:
- Hire qualified, certified coaches and athletic trainers
- Establish and communicate a policy and procedure for reporting and addressing incidents of youth abuse and molestation. Educate all coaches, athletic trainers, athletes, other school officials and parents on your policy and procedure
- Ensure all paperwork is signed and received before the start of the season, including: Annual consent and acknowledgment of risk of injury forms and waivers signed by athletes and/or parent, good sportsmanship/conduct forms signed by athletes, annual proof of individual, parental or institutional health insurance (covering sport injuries), an annual medical exam/evaluation and immunization record from a qualified medical professional, giving clearance to play a particular sport
- Promote a drug-free environment
● Provide planned and supervised conditioning, practice, competition and travel
● Comply with applicable state laws and, for NCAA member institutions, all NCAA bylaws
Health, wellness and medical management:
- Have medical resources/qualified medical professionals in place in the event of an emergency, including the capability of early defibrillation per your state law
- Educate coaches and athletes on heat illness, sickle cell trait, heart disorders, staph infections (MRSA), sprain/strain and head injuries Put measures in place to mitigate the effects of extreme heat (rest breaks, fluids), and be prepared to respond to signs of heat illness. Provide conditioning and practice exercises within the capabilities of athletes for optimal readiness. Be aware of any medical restrictions for athletes regarding exercising and extreme heat. Teach athletes about the importance of good hygiene, especially regarding skin breaks, abrasions and skin infections, which could lead to staph infections/MRSA
- Have a written catastrophic injury response plan
- Have a written concussion management plan Consider the use of baseline testing for concussion management. Baseline testing provides a pre-injury capabilities score for memory, reaction times and cognitive processing and can help medical professionals make return-to-play decisions, post injury
- Review OSHA’s blood-borne pathogens standard to determine its applicability to your program
- Require a post-injury release form from a qualified medical professional before an injured athlete returns to play
Additional information for concussion mitigation and management
Concussions can be silent villains – the signs may not be readily detected. They can lead to brain damage, paralysis and, in some cases, death. To help coaches, athletes and parents identify and respond to concussions, a number of organizations offer information on concussion prevention and management, including the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association. Additionally, the CDC, in partnership with leading organizations and experts, also provides Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports. In addition to knowing the symptoms and what to do in the event of a concussion, “Heads Up” recommends a four-step Heads Up Action Plan before the season starts, as well as educating athletes and parents.
Facility and equipment:
- Use safety standards when purchasing mandated personal protective equipment. Maintain and repair equipment at all times. Have a process for athletes to inform coaching staff when equipment becomes unsafe or illegal
- Provide mandated protective equipment. Train athletes on and enforce use and proper fit
- Routinely inspect your athletic area/facility, including the warm up area, and playing fields for maintenance, repair and good housekeeping
- Be prepared for lightning. Education and prevention are key to avoiding risks associated with lightning strikes
An athletic program based on sound safety and health management principles can help schools and park and recreation departments play it safe!
The information provided in this document is provided by Travelers and is intended for use as a guideline and is not intended as, nor does it constitute, legal or professional advice. Travelers does not warrant that adherence to, or compliance with, any recommendations, best practices, checklists, or guidelines will result in a particular outcome. In no event will Travelers, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, be liable in tort or in contract to anyone who has access to or uses this information for any purpose. Travelers does not warrant that the information in this document constitutes a complete and finite list of each and every item or procedure related to the topics or issues referenced herein. Furthermore, federal, state, provincial, municipal or local laws, regulations, standards or codes, as is applicable, may change from time to time and the user should always refer to the most current requirements. This material does not amend, or otherwise affect, the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by Travelers, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, and any applicable law.
We have had a few requests for sample wording to be used when a group or individual is using your organization name, crest and/or letters inappropriately. We have crafted the following language for your use in those situations. As always is the case in legal matters, we do recommend that you engage legal counsel in these types of situations.
In addition to a letter with the below or similar language, we also recommend that you include any back-up information, including pictures or other accounts of the misuse of the trademark, and any other corresponding documentation that reinforces your position.
MJ Sorority Sample Template
It has come to our attention that your group and its members continue to misrepresent yourselves as members of [insert organization name and the specific nature of the misrepresentation].
This letter serves to inform you that you have made an unauthorized use of our copyrighted name and symbols in your operation. We demand that you immediately cease the use of such identification on your campus of any association with [insert organization name]. We demand that you desist from this or any other infringement of our rights in the future, referenced under the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which proves ownership or our name and the use of our associated symbols, including our Greek letters.