Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month

“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.” -Bebe Moore Campbell 

The month of July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month (BIPOC MHAM). For this month, we want to honor Bebe Moore Campbell who made this all happen.

Bebe Moore Campbell (1950-2006) was a Black American author, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles, a national spokesperson, a journalist, teacher, and a mental health advocate who was passionate about learning, researching, and sharing the mental health needs of the Black community and underrepresented communities. At age 56, she passed away due to having brain cancer. To recognize her legacy and honor her, The U.S. House of Representatives designated July as “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.”

For this month, we also encourage you to participate in the BIPOC MHAM. It serves to shed a light on the health disparities, bring awareness to mental illnesses, and stress the need to improve access to mental health treatment within underrepresented communities, such as Black/African Americans.

For many centuries, BIPOC individuals have experienced trauma in all aspects of their lives. BIPOC individuals are less likely to have access to health services and receive care. There are also more likely to receive poor quality health services and to end health services prematurely.

We must #TakeCareDePaul by working with one another to dismantle systems that perpetuate discrimination, work against health equity, and places blame on BIPOC communities. Learn more at mhanational. org/july.

How Can You Support?

  • Research about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities
  • Spread awareness about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities with your friends and family
  • Enhance public awareness of mental health and mental illness in BIPOC communities
  • Support BIPOC communities who do not have access to health care
    • Use and/or share Mental Health America’s Tools 2 Thrive, which is located in their toolkit, that serves to help better equip BIPOC communities to address their mental health.

Also, follow @HealthyDePaul and @OMSSdepaul on Instagram for more education and resources for this month.

For additional education and resources, please feel free to check out Mental Health America’s 2020 Campaign for BIPOC MHAM.  #BIPOCmentalhealthmonth

Take Care DePaul!

Coping with COVID Away from Home

When I first left my home country to come to the United States I was not sure what exactly to expect. I was about to start a new chapter in my life. I was both nervous and excited, a feeling that somehow reminded me of Jonas in Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but I wasn’t afraid. Home, the Commonwealth of Dominica, was only a plane ride away, I had nothing to fear and was enjoying the opportunity given to me. I was so happy when I started university at DePaul, I finally had an idea of the direction of my life, what I wanted to do, granted I had to keep editing bits and pieces here and there. I was content. This isn’t to say that it was without ups and downs, even though I was happy in Chicago, I still missed home. 

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Social Media Cleanse During COVID-19

Hello everybody! Let’s talk COVID-19 x Social Media. Here I will be discussing social media usage during COVID-19 and what I noticed when I cut down on my social media usage for a few days. As COVID-19 continues, it has become obvious that a lot of us are spending more time on our phones and laptops (even TVs) than we used to before. Some of us are perfectly fine with this, and it is working well as a means of keeping in touch and up to date, and others are frustrated with how much time is currently spent on the screen. I fall into the latter category. Because some of my screen time (like work and school initiatives) is non-variable, I decided to change the one aspect of it that is variable for me: my usage for personal purposes, a lot of which involves social media. Keep reading for my personal tips around why cutting down on usage can be helpful as well as how you might go about approaching this!

(Keep in mind, this is not for everybody right now – many of us are far away from loved ones and find social media to be a great tool in helping keep us connected. Many of us tend to use social media as a news source. And for some of us, social media usage and technology usage is simply a means of coping right now – and that is perfectly okay if it’s working for you. If this is the case for you, maybe sometime in the future would be more feasible for a cleanse like this. Or maybe you do a half cleanse now… still use certain platforms but not others, or just use platforms less than you usually would. OR maybe now is the perfect time for a cleanse because you’re sick of all of the screen time. Do what is best for you personally! The following are some ideas that worked for me.)

If you are currently a student like me, not only are you now taking four (or more) online classes, you might also be doing remote work for a job as well. For me, the combination of four different online classes, a remote job in which I engage in 5/7 days of the week, the online search for a job for after graduation, and any personal technology usage outside of these things really adds up! It feels as though my whole life could be lived on the screen right now if I let it get to that place. Which is why I wanted to write this post… and why I took a cleanse from social media for a few days.






For my cleanse, I decided to remove Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok (we all know how encaptivating this one is nowadays) from my phone. For me, it had to be all of these apps, as I wanted to do a full cleanse, and these are the social media apps that I gravitate towards the most on a daily (sometimes even hourly – oops) basis. Initially, I kept the apps fully deleted, but one day in I decided to redownload them, simply turn off all notifications and badges for each of them, and keep them in a folder on the last ‘page’ of my phone where I wouldn’t be as tempted to click on them. The only reason I redownloaded the apps was so that I could check in once or twice a day to stay connected, but still remain mostly off of these apps. I made this decision because I realized that right now – during COVID – it is extremely hard to be completely disconnected from social media as a lot of our interaction with loved ones occurs over social media at this moment in time. Basically, I noticed that I did not want to be completely disconnected from this outlet, as there are many positive aspects to it as well, so I adjusted my cleanse. A big tip of mine: Feel free to adjust at any time if you need to! This is all about what serves YOU best.









Being flexible in this way is important, in my mind, as it leaves more room for ‘process improvement,’ so to speak. I am also a big proponent of the idea of balance in life, so having no access at all to the apps felt a bit extreme to me. Keeping my apps on my phone – just more tucked away – also allowed me to practice having self-control, as I still had access and was forced to make the conscious decision to avoid engaging. Knowing the apps were there in the back of my phone was tempting at some points in time, but I knew I needed to hold out and stay true to my commitment to take a break because of all of the positive aspects that were coming with it. And each time I chose to live in the moment versus go on my social media apps, I felt accomplished.

Let’s now talk about what I noticed by doing this cleanse. And afterwards I’ll provide some tips for those who are interested in trying this as well. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list – there are so many benefits to decreasing screen time/time on social media, and they show differently for everyone.

  • One of the first things that I noticed was an overall increase in wellbeing. By this I mean that I simply just felt better – overall! There could be many reasons as to why this was the case, but I think the things that I am about to mention next were a big part of it.
  • One of these things was that I noticed I felt (and probably was) a lot more in the moment. I really felt present! I felt engaged in life and in interactions with others and myself. I’d go as far as to say that going off of my social media actually increased the mindfulness that I had moving through my days. And we know that there are so many different benefits to mindfulness! The biggest benefit that I see in mindfulness is that you are literally taking back time that is otherwise lost to being the opposite of mindful about life. When you are mindful, you are fully living in every moment and taking it all in completely.
  • Another interesting thing that I noticed was that I started choosing to partake in activities that I might not have otherwise gravitated towards as much before taking a break from social media. I actually felt myself getting more creative in my pursuit of entertainment/stimulation. For instance, I started playing more board games and card games with my family. And I started using the app Duolingo to re-teach myself Spanish. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in doing these types of activities before, but it was just so easy to hop on my phone (social media) that I often times wouldn’t even consider trying something else. In this way, I believe that the cleanse actually helped me to expand my mind in a way and increase my creativity as it relates to choosing new and fun activities to engage in. Now, even though I am not on a hiatus from social media anymore, I still choose to participate in these activities that I picked up during my break, and I’m so happy that I have this newfound appreciation for them.
  • Another interesting thing that I noticed had to do with the amount of time I felt I had in a day. Time is something that many of us seem to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with. Many of us feel that in this fast-paced day and age we live in we never have enough time to truly live! I think that often times we genuinely believe we have zero free time in any given day – and for some of us with super busy schedules this might be true at times – but think about the number that is your screen time (this number can usually be found in the settings app of a smartphone) and how much time this takes out of a 24-hour day. Say your screen time each day is 4 hours (out of 24). That is 1/6th of your day lost to staring at a screen versus participating in life outside of the screen. Imagine if you even just cut that number in half and had an extra hour or two to do what you wanted with each day – that’d be so much more time to actually live!

Are you looking to do a cleanse yourself but simply don’t know where to get started? Here are some tips that I found to be helpful in staying true to the commitment to a cleanse:

  • One thing that I found helpful – this I mentioned earlier too – was to put the social media apps in a folder on the last ‘page’ of my phone so that they weren’t as easily accessible; they were ‘out of sight out of mind’ so to speak.
  • Turning off notifications and badges was also so helpful! I cannot emphasize this enough. This made all the difference for me. In the past, it was so easy to feel tempted to go on social media anytime and all the time because there were constantly notifications reminding me that something new was happening. Those little red badges would constantly tell me that I had a new message on Instagram or picture to see on Snapchat. By turning off my notifications and badges I was able to cut down on my usage a lot as I didn’t see everything constantly popping up on my lock screen and, subsequently, wasn’t always automatically checking it – it became a conscious decision to go on an app, and I got to see any updates when I made this decision. I realized that a lot of these updates were not nearly as ‘time sensitive’ as I had labeled them as before and that a lot of them could wait until the end of the day.
  • A caveat here: I think that often times our social media usage can become quite “autopiloted” versus conscious, and so one easy way to cut down on social media usage is to simply become more aware of our usage – this means both being aware of when you are and aren’t going on as well as being aware of whether or not you’re doing so consciously. For some, keeping a journal might even be of value! You could simply log whenever you are going on, for how long, why you decided to go on, and what you were doing in order to become more mindful of your usage (if anything).
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, making an announcement online to others that you will be cutting off/down your usage can be really helpful – this serves as an accountability check. This could be as simple as making an Instagram story (or any other equivalent) that says something along the lines of, “Taking a break from social media for a few days [or weeks if you choose] – if you need to contact me, shoot me a text instead.” Putting out a message like this can also save you from the stressful thought that perhaps others will think you’re ignoring them, or the stress that you might miss an important message from a loved one. (You can also just reach out to the individuals who would be most likely to contact you and just let them know to reach out via a phone call or text message instead.)
  • Making an announcement to friends and family that you tend to see on a regular basis can also be quite helpful (& is something you could do instead of making one online if you don’t feel as comfortable doing that) – these people can help check you if they see you spending a lot of time on your phone!

Well, that is all I have for now. I hope that at least one of these tips and tricks rings true with you! If now is a time that you would like to do a cleanse as well – just remember, we all have different needs… do what’s right for you and adjust when needed! Balance in life is important.


Lauren at HPW




Body Image and Quarantine – Fighting Against the Productivity Myth

Body Image and Quarantine: Navigating the Productivity Myth

Content creators across their various platforms have jumped at the chance to publish cutting edge material designed to set them apart during the Covid-19 pandemic, and fitness influencers are no different. It feels nearly impossible to log onto any one of your various social media platforms without seeing a new post about some sort of “quarantine diet”, at-home workouts, or posts with an underlying tone of shame for not embracing all of this new “free time”. A consistent theme throughout Covid-19 messaging is the theory that everyone should be taking advantage of the stay-at-home orders by learning new skills, starting new businesses, and taking steps to “improve” one’s body by taking up new workout routines or dieting habits.

These messages are multi-faceted: with the closure of gyms and studios, there are people who are genuinely looking for fitness alternatives. However, the insistence that everyone needs to be using this time to “better” themselves is not fair and is ignorant of the circumstances that most of our fellow community members are facing. With the constant and ever-present expression that now is a time for productivity and achievements, people may begin to question their successes and efforts made during their time in quarantine. This can be especially true when it comes to issues of body image and the messaging we are exposed to regarding our bodies and how to treat them and how they should look during this time.

In short, you are not “lazy” for not being able to or not wanting to use your free time at home to exercise. For many people, the idea of having “more free time” is not the case at all due to increased need for childcare, the continuing job expectations for essential workers, and the innumerable other responsibilities and stressors placed upon people during this time. The idea of “hustle” mindset comes from the ingrained capitalist frame that we can “increase” our worth through productivity and subsequently are led to believe that if we do not use this time at home in a productive manner, we are failing in some way.

This mindset can be particularly damaging when it is targeted at fitness and body image during quarantine. For people whose regular routines were entirely changed by the pandemic, exercise routines and gym plans where most likely pushed to the wayside. When met with content insisting that one must push themselves regardless, it can turn into damaging rhetoric reflecting on a person’s self-worth and their feelings towards their body.

Throughout this unprecedented time, it is more essential now than ever to be kind to yourself and your body. Do what feels right for you – a home workout may be just what you need! But if you feel yourself being negatively affected by the content you are taking in related to what you should be doing with your body, you do not have to feel bad about unfollowing fitness or “wellness” accounts whose impact have the opposite effect. Feel free to contact the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and follow our social media for more information as to how to stay mentally well during a pandemic.

For more resources about pressured productivity, check out these websites for more information:

Bringing The Outdoors Indoors

For those of us who call ourselves “adventurers”, “wanderers” or what have you, it’s easy to feel lost during this time; no pun intended. Understandably so, things just aren’t the same. The socially responsible voice playing in our head or on our Instagram feed (@whereslightfoot, anyone?) is telling us to stay home. Granted, I’ve been guilty of sneaking some much needed time on trails and paths but so has everyone else! I’m not using that to justify my time out, rather, the opposite. If we’re all out on the same trails or at the same parks then it’s easy to see how risky it can be. By all means, go for that walk or that bike ride – but do so responsibly! I can promise you that the day the green flag waves will be unimaginably wonderful. Until then, let’s try something new – something different. I bet you didn’t know that Google Earth offers virtual tours of 31 National Park sites. Maybe you didn’t realize the vast amount of nature films and documentaries on the most popular streaming services. You’d be amazed at all the interesting and fun ways to bring the outdoors indoors! Here are just a few. 

I mentioned Google Earth but I didn’t tell you what a vast resource it actually can be. You’re able to take all sorts of adventures from the comfort of your couch or under the covers of your bed. As your local guide today, my first suggestion would be exploring some of our nation’s most treasured places; the National Parks. The best part? No admission fees! Give yourself an hour and you can mosey around Arches National Park in Utah for a few minutes and then find yourself in Maine, at Arcadia National Park, for the rest of the time. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy then shoot on over to the Florida Everglades – all before lunch. I encourage you to check out the “voyager” tab inside Google Earth for a few more surprises too!

If you’re a nonfiction fanatic like me then I’m sure you can appreciate the long list of outdoor adventure films and documentaries that streaming services like Disney Plus, Netflix, and many more, have listed. I’ll follow with some of my favorites here with a link to their homepage if they have one – but be sure to check if they’re still streaming:

Into The Wild (2007) 

Nature (38 Seasons and still going!) – PBS

National Parks Adventure (2016) – Netflix

The Dawn Wall (2017) – Netflix

Mountain (2017) – Netflix 

Night On Earth (2020) – Netflix Original Series

Jumbo Wild (2015) – Amazon Prime Video

Antarctica: A Year On Ice (2017) – Amazon Prime Video

Something a little different: At The Drive-In (2019) – Amazon Prime Video

If all this screen time lately has you overwhelmed then I’d urge you to find something else to break up the monotony that we’re coming to know. If you’re feeling something more stimulating try things like potting plants! These can be for either indoor or outdoor beauty. It’s hard to argue with the benefits of indoor plants. If you find yourself as one of those people who can’t seem to keep a plant alive for more than a few weeks (like me, oops.) there are always alternatives. Pressing flowers can be a great way to preserve some gems that you’d like to hold on to – just remember to respect wildlife and keep in mind the Leave No Trace Principles if you’re looking outside. REI has a great blog that includes a number of outdoorsy activities that are worth checking out while we’re hunkered down at home. 

We’re having to live life a little differently right now, and frankly, that’s the perfect time to experience something new! As I hope you’ve seen, experiencing something new doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the house. Let’s make the most of this time and find adventure in places where we’d least expect it. Go watch a movie or read a blog. Pot a plant or just admire their beauty from afar. I hope you found some solace in this piece and remember to take good care of yourself. Let’s rekindle our love for the great outdoors and find wanderlust in new responsible ways so we’re ready when the green flag waves. 


Executive Functioning and Online Classes

It seems that there are often two types of people in the world- those who like pineapple on pizza and those who do not, those who are better at reading and writing and those who are better at math and science, those who are generally well organized and get assignments done early and those who forget about an assignment due tonight at 11:59 pm and end up starting it at 11:20 pm.  However, it is quite clear that everything shifting to being online may also cause shifts in certain habits and mindsets.  If you find that you were once one of the people who had everything organized in their planner and always had everything done days ahead of time, but have now shifted to being one who forgets about assignments and is struggling to get them done when you do remember, you are not alone.   

If you are struggling with these skills, you may be struggling with something called “executive functioning”.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines executive function as a “group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior”.  This definition includes multiple skill sets that work together to enhance your ability to get things done, such as schoolwork 

 Many people struggle with these skills on a regular basis.  However, with everything being online, it is much easier to miss deadlines, misinterpret what you are supposed to do for an assignment, or lack the focus needed to sit through a zoom lecture and take helpful notes.  Struggles like these may feel daunting and frustrating, but there are ways to set yourself up for success!  Let’s take a look at a few! 



  • You might have heard this one before but write everything down.  When you write down tasks, make sure you write them down in a way that is beneficial to you.  Some people find it helpful to organize their assignments by the date that they are due.  Others may think that it is more helpful for them to make a list the night before of things they need to complete for the next day as it mentally prepares them for doing tasks that day.  Different methods work for different people, but having tasks and assignments written down will help with seeing what work needs to get done and mentally preparing to do so.   
  • Create a daily routine and stick to it as well as you can.  Like writing things down, having a daily routine will help give you an expectation as to how your day should go.  For example, if your morning routine is waking up at 9:00 am, having breakfast, and then sitting down to do an assignment, it will feel more natural to get something done for classes after you finish your morning coffee and bowl of cereal.  If you get into the habit of completing tasks at a certain time of the day (or multiple times throughout the day), you will be more prepared to get tasks done when that specific time rolls around.   


Task Initiation and Focus 

  • Try not to multitask.  When you are doing multiple things at once, it is harder for your brain to focus on each task enough to get them done well.  It is tempting to try to get as many things done as soon as possible.  However, doing each task on its own will be easier in the long run.  Plus, doing tasks individually will increase the likelihood of each task being done with a higher quality.   
  • Set a timer for how long you are going to work on a task.  Maybe one day you have an essay to write, a discussion board to post, and a chapter you have to read.  Depending on how long the chapter is, you could give yourself 45 minutes to read it and take quality notes.  Once that is complete, give yourself half an hour to write your discussion post.  When you go to work on your essay, give yourself 30 to 45 minutes to write each sectionSetting a time limit will help keep you focused on your task because you know that you only have a certain amount of time to finish, so there is no time to waste.  Of course, if you do not finish an assignment during said time slot, that is fine.  This is just a mental trick to help keep as much of your focus as possible.  With that said, it is important to consider how much time you will realistically need to finish something.  Maybe it takes longer for you to read an article than it does to write a reply to a discussion post.  Fit your timer to your needs. 
  • Set alarms for when you need to start a task.  For some people, the hardest part of doing an assignment is starting.  An alarm will help keep you accountable for sitting down and starting whatever it is you need to start.  Not only that, but if you set your alarm at 10:00 am to remind you to start an assignment at 1:00pm, then you are able to mentally prepare yourself for actually starting, whether that means taking the time before your alarm goes off to truly relax or to prepare what you need ahead of time (such as getting out materials or reviewing information). 
  • Allow yourself to take breaks.  Taking breaks will help you to avoid looking at your computer screen for too long and feeling overworked.  It is easy to think that because we are home, we must get everything done as soon as possible.  However, this can quickly lead to burnout and unnecessary stress (on top of all the other things causing stress right now).  If you need to, schedule in breaks like you would schedule in any other task throughout the day.  Maybe you try to read two chapters of your textbook at 9:30 am and then you have an alarm go off at 11:00 am as a reminder to take a break.  Breaks can allow you to rest and recharge so you can get tasks done with more quality and energy. 


General Tips and Reminders 

  • Take care of yourself.  This situation is likely scary and overwhelming for many people.  It is always important to take care of yourself, and now is no exception.  If you must set alarms to take breaks for eating snacks or stretching or you need to write your preferred self-care activities into your daily schedule, do it.  Taking time to care for yourself is just as important as taking time to complete that discussion post. 
  • Create boundaries.  This was mentioned before, but it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you must always be productive while you are home.  This is not the case.  In any situation, pandemic or not, boundaries for work and relaxation are a must.  If you are struggling with how you will create these boundaries, try asking yourself these questions: 
    • What time of day is reasonable to for me to start working? 
    • When do I need to be done working by to avoid stress and allow myself to unwind?  
    • Will it be helpful for me to use technology during breaks? 


On a final note, do not feel bad for struggling with these skills.  Whether you typically struggle with executive functioning or switching to remote learning has caused this to become a struggle for you, it is okay.  What is most important is that you try your best.  Not only that, but it is crucial to remember that everybody’s best is always changing.  Some days are better than others, and as long as you give your best each day (no matter what that best looks like in comparison to other days), that is something to feel good about.