On Sunday, Sept. 6, students received a link to EverFi’s Mental Well-Being for Students online course, a new resource for students aimed at supporting their mental health.
The 45-minute course contains four modules focused on mental health topics including self-management, recognizing challenges and seeking and offering help. Students are also asked at the beginning of the course to participate in an anonymous survey to collect national data on mental health in the college population. Students can take the course until it expires on Sept. 30.
Although the course is not mandatory, “[the administration is] trying to encourage students from different aspects of campus life to participate in it,” said Holly Baker, Associate Director of Counseling. Some faculty are encouraging their students to participate in the course as well.
The course was selected by members of the Task Force on Emotional Health and Well-Being, who originally tested two different educational programs on mental health. Ultimately, they agreed that EverFi’s course was more engaging.
Junior Class President and task force member Skyler Lesser-Roy ’22 found the EverFi videos reenacting scenarios concerning mental health particularly helpful. She said, “I’ve been in those situations and asked, ‘What do I do? How do I speak to them?’” She suggested that the course will empower students to focus on preventative mental health. “Having a little training like this is helpful. Maybe not everyone needs a 45-minute [counseling] session and has a diagnosed issue,” she said.
The online course is one of multiple resources that Kenyon is offering to students during the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that has worsened many students’ mental health. Indeed, according to a survey conducted by Active Minds — a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness of mental health in college students — in April, 20 percent of college students indicated that their mental health had worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. This issue is compounded for Kenyon juniors and seniors studying remotely, most of whom no longer have access to the Cox Health and Counseling Center as the counselors’ licenses do not extend beyond Ohio.
However, the College is encouraging these students to make use of Talkspace, a platform where students can asynchronously message counselors who are licensed in their state. Still, the online course only begins to address the deficit in counseling resources on campus, including the vacancy in the Cox Health and Counseling Center due to Mike Durham’s retirement at the end of June.
Dean of Students Robin Hart Ruthenbeck suggested that this course may benefit the community as a whole by helping to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. “It says that this is something that we do need to be able to talk about,” she said. “Mental health is health.”