By Dr. Mark E. Pleiss, Washington and Jefferson ’11
A new semester brings the opportunity to reflect on our successes of the last year and set new goals and resolutions for the upcoming semester. It is a time to reflect on how your chapter has done regarding many things, including our social activities, academics, and brotherhood. My sincere hope is that you have continued to move forward toward your goals both as an individual and a chapter. Quite simply, it’s a good time to ask important questions before life gets busy!
People often label mental health as either ‘sick’ or ‘well,’ but I compare mental health to fitness. Much like our physical health, we need to take time to workout, play, recover, and rest. When we are in good shape, we do the activities that cause us to experience a wide variety of thoughts and emotions, cope with some of those thoughts and emotions, and take time to restore our energy. This process is great for an individual, but how can we promote mental fitness at a chapter level?
One of the items you should reflect on with your chapter is your commitment to increasing mental fitness on your campus. What events has your chapter done that support mental health and increase mental fitness? These can be something small or as large as you want, but I encourage you to take the time to focus on the small and daily ways we can support one another. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the large events that we forget that even simple actions can mean a world of difference in a person’s life.
Examples of events include:
• Pass the gavel in the chapter meeting
• Host a weekly table to write a note for a positive note for a stranger
• Fireside chats with brothers and Phikeias
• Have staff from your campus counseling center present to the chapter on mental health
• Host a speaker about mental health awareness on campus
• Invite brothers to dinner after chapter
This list is not exhaustive in the scope of what activities you could do to support mental health and wellness. I would encourage you to work with your chaplain or mental health officer to develop a couple of events that focus on the chapter and your campus for the upcoming semester. Look for opportunities to engage your chapter advisory board and province president in some of the activities, as they may also bring experiences and ideas on supporting one another. At the end of the day, fraternity done right will always support good mental wellness, not just for now but for life.