Second-year UTHSC medical student Michael Brunner knew medical school would be one of the most difficult challenges he would ever face, but until he actually started attending, he didn’t understand how much his mental and emotional health could also be affected. Thanks to UTHSC’s #takecare initiative, he and other students are getting some relief, while also learning about the importance of self-care.
Launched last year by the Office of Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI), the #takecare campaign is a major part of UTHSC’s student mental health initiative. It is designed to support the physical and emotional health and well-being of UTHSC students.
The initiative continues with new events planned for February. On February 11, a “Thriving” Fair will take place in the Student-Alumni Center. Students will be offered massages, Reiki, and more. Sweetheart Sundaes will be handed out in the General Education Building (GEB) Lobby on February 13. Kwabena Blankson, MD, a physician and veteran who works with Good Think Inc., an organization that teaches positive psychology, will be speaking to students about resilience, happiness, and thriving in the health sciences on February 14 from noon to 1 p.m. in the GEB, A102. The second edition of the Warrior Within Panel will take place on February 19 from noon to 1 p.m in the GEB, A104. Students will be on the panel and lunch will be provided for the first 50 students.
“SASSI has been working so hard to help demonstrate to students that taking the time for self-care and to enjoy yourself along the journey of learning health care is so important, and it has made such a difference,” Brunner said. “Because I learned to take more time for myself and the things I love doing, I feel more fulfilled and happier than when I started. #takeCare is something I hope SASSI never stops promoting.”
UTHSC kicked off a series of events centered around mental health components and self-care techniques last year, introducing the initiative last fall with a kick-off event. It included vendors sharing wellness services, such as massages, painting, Reiki, and yoga, as well as support information and contacts.
The first Warrior Within faculty panel featured campus leadership from various colleges and departments discussing skills and techniques to better manage and handle the emotional, academic, social, and physical demands students face when completing an education in the health sciences. Dave Denino, LPC, NCC, president of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association, provided suicide prevention training to 40 faculty, students and staff last December.
“I am grateful for what is being accomplished through the #takecare campaign,” said Kathy Gibbs, MEd, MS, assistant vice chancellor of SASSI. “Our initial focus was on what we could most directly influence, which included increased counseling and coaching support, training of faculty, staff and students across all campuses, marketing, and programs providing models of self-care and resiliency. We thank the UTHSC administration for its support.”
In addition to events and programs, an online portal was created, where faculty, staff and students can anonymously share concerns 24-hours a day. “This has enabled our team to reach out and provide holistic wrap-around services to students and get them connected to resources on and off campus in a timely manner in order to decrease the likelihood of crises,” Gibbs said. “It proves that not only do we have a campus that cares, but prevention is the key to supporting students in adjusting and completing their academic and professional goals.”