Drinking Culture and Harm Reduction

Drinking culture is so prevalent around us, particularly in Chicago, that we seldom take time to stop and reflect on the impact it has on us and those around us. Take a moment to think about the things you encounter on a daily basis. That could include ads, TV shows, music, movies, the built environment around you. You will likely find that these things contribute substantially to drinking culture and often promote unhealthy and non-inclusive ideas of drinking. If you think of your favorite TV show or movie, it often doesn’t take long to find a plot line like, if you have a problem then have a drink or if you feel bad then have a drink. These messages can be subliminal or very explicit but they are so pervasive around us that their impact can be far reaching. The idea of alcohol as a cure all is misleading and can cause real harm. It may not only lead to someone delaying seeking support for the root issue, but can lead to unhealthy relationships with substances in the meantime.

In addition to being directly harmful, the prevalence of drinking culture is also extremely non-inclusive. There are many people who choose not to drink, are sober and/or are in recovery. Alcohol’s prevalence can at the very least make it difficult for those who choose not to drink. It can also be triggering and exclusive for those who are in recovery or have had bad experiences with alcohol. It’s important that we begin to shift the culture of drinking around us, but the first step to doing so is by shifting our own internal attitudes towards alcohol and drinking. This can be as simple as creating more inclusive events that don’t center around alcohol or noticing and acknowledging when unhealthy portrayals of alcohol appear around us.

Consider joining HPW for Nightmare on Sheffield to learn more about harm reduction strategies and the culture of alcohol. Nightmare on Sheffield is happening in the Lincoln Park Student Center on October 29th from 4-7 PM. We will also have\ Nightmare on State on October 28th from 4-6 PM in the DePaul Center on our Loop campus.


The Sober Voices programming is a great way to learn about the journey of sobriety from individuals with lived experiences and can be found online. We also offer reflection guides if you want to share the videos with friends, student groups or other organizations.


You can join us on Fridays from 2:00-4:00 PM for our Alcohol CHOICES program. CHOICES is a great space to learn more about alcohol and reflect on its impact and our relationship to it.


If you are interested in learning more about the culture of alcohol and its impact, join us for Wellness Wednesday this week on 10/13/2021 from 4:30-5:00 PM.


Wherever you’re at, there is a space for you here. If you identify as being in recovery DePaul also offers a Collegiate Recovery community. You can check out DeHub for more info, or send our Substance Misuse Prevention Specialist – Katie Bellamy – an email at kbellamy@depaul.edu! If you aren’t sure where to start, if you’re struggling, if you need support or someone to talk to, or you just want to learn more, please reach out to the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. We are always here for you!


Phone: 773-325-7129

Email: hpw@depaul.edu

Social Media: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @healthydepaul


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Having Anxiety About Returning to In-Person Activities is Valid

First, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness wants every Blue Demon to know that all emotions and perspectives concerning the return to campus are valid. Like many other campus organizations, we have warmly (and safely) welcomed the DePaul community back into our office while still providing a number of trainings and resources in virtual settings. This is just one of the ways we are continuing to support DePaul University holistically. 

As our community begins the transition back to campus it is likely that we all will experience a mix of emotions. For some of us, it feels exciting to connect with our colleagues on campus again or meet our peers in-person for the first time. Kinesthetic and hands-on learners have the opportunity to engage with class content in a way that better suits their needs. And individuals who lived alone during the pandemic get to reintroduce more face-to-face interactions into their daily routine.  

However, for others, returning to campus may be a cause for more stress. Individuals who don’t live close to campus have to once again allocate time for commuting. Those who joined DePaul after March 2020 are learning how to connect with our community in physical spaces. All of us are likely facing anxiety about how to interact with each other in-person while keeping ourselves and our communities safe. It’s even possible to experience feelings at both ends of this spectrum.  

So how do we deal with these complex emotions while maintaining our academic/occupational responsibilities, upholding safety protocols, mitigating social anxiety, and respecting any new boundaries we might have with the return to in-person activities? The first step is giving ourselves time to process what our emotions and needs are. When feeling overwhelmed it is sometimes easy to just focus on how stressed we are or how much we have to do. But it is more important than ever to create space to decompress from our days and practice mindfulness. While meditation is a form of mindfulness that some people do find useful it may not be the best mindfulness tool for everyone. Some other mindfulness techniques can include exercising, journaling, actively listening to music (focusing on the specific words and instruments that evoke strong emotions), cooking a meal, or coloring/crafting. To learn more about how you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine read this article by mindful.org: 5 Simple Mindfulness Practices for Daily Life. 


Another important habit we can all incorporate into our routines to decrease our stress levels at this time is to regularly reflect on how the return to in-person is affecting our wellbeing.  Utilizing reflection to process our experience with returning to in-person can help us understand how our boundaries have changed over the last year and a half. Not only has this time caused us to assess the policies our school and workplaces have concerning sick days/mental health days it has also made many people think about how the organizations we interact with are supporting our needs and engaging in discussions about making their spaces more equitable and accessible. There are internal and external methods of reflection (thinking through the topic, writing pro/con lists, discussing reflections with a loved one, journaling, etc.). Similar to mindfulness, there is no one correct way to engage in reflection. The important part is giving ourselves the time to be honest with how we are being affected so we can be intentional with our boundaries, how we ask for support, and how we interact with our academic, occupational, and personal spaces.  


We all deserve to give ourselves and others more grace as we figure out how to acclimate to a new “normal.”  By spending more time validating our own feelings we can have more space to validate the feelings of those around us. This is another way we can take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of DePaul.





It’s Okay to not be Okay!

In a world where everyone tries their best to present their best selves all the time, it can be easy to forget that it is okay to not be okay. The pressure to always be okay can be extremely taxing and can put a real stain on your mental health. Remembering that it is okay to not be okay is important and is a crucial step in advancing in your mental health journey.  

 Here are some ways you can take care of your mental health:  

1.Be cognizant of your bandwidth: knowing your capacity and how much you can take on allows you to mitigate unnecessary stressors. Try checking in with your mood, physical feelings, and stress levels every day to learn your baseline.  

 2.Learn how you best deal with stress: learning how you best deal with stress, is the first step in alleviating it and helps you avoid burnout. Finding coping mechanisms for stress can look like reflecting on what has worked in the past, talking with your healthcare provider about medications or other treatment options that can be implemented to help support your holistic health. 

 3.Recharge yourself: recharging allows you to take a step away from the stressors in your life and gives you the opportunity to refill your mental and emotional gas tank. Engaging in things that energize you or creating spaces where you can relax are a fantastic way to recharge your mental and emotional health.  

 4.Set boundaries for yourself: setting boundaries for yourself provides you with the opportunity to maintain your mental wellness. Boundaries could assist in preserving your mental and emotional energy and provide you with a sense of control that can empower you on your mental health journey.  

 5.Get help when you need it: creating a strong support system is a wonderful way to care for your mental health. Support systems allow for you to create a network that are there to celebrate your successes, and help you work through your problems.  

 Hope for the Day’s “Things We Don’t Say” workshop, “is a program designed to teach individuals how to understand self-care and be supportive to proactive mental health care for others. We press the discussion about stigma, its impact on individuals and communities, and teach practical skills for early recognition of mental health challenges that often go unaddressed due to the silence of stigma, building to a crisis stage. Through Peer-to-peer Proactive Prevention, we can disrupt the highest risk factors before the crisis stage. If we make it OK to talk about mental health, we can save lives” (HFTD). 

 If you or a friend are interested in attending “Things We Don’t Say,” Hope for the Day offers this one-hour workshop (Tuesdays at 11am CST and Thursdays at 1:00pm CST ) You can register here: https://hopefortheday.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nVr0oCoZQ-20B1k7i3u_QQ 

For additional wellness information and tips join HPW every Wednesday for Wellness Wednesday from 4-4:30, you can find more information and register on DeHub.  

If you or a friend need mental health support DePaul offers free brief counseling services through the app MySSP. In the case of an urgent or life-threatening emergency please Call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or (if you are on campus) call Public Safety: (773) 325-7777 (Lincoln Park) or (312) 362-8400 (Loop). 




Substance Use in College – Sober Voices

Defining College “Fun” & Practicing Inclusivity  

When you think about having fun in college, what comes to mind? Many might say things like: meeting new friends, experiencing independence, moving to a new place, living with roommates, trying new restaurants, going to campus events, joining a club, exploring interests and hobbies, attending sporting events, and more. Some might also think about drinking and substance use as a part of that college “fun.” This is a common thought both because many are curious about their substance use and hoping to experiment and explore as well as because we are often conditioned to consider substance use (particularly binge drinking) as a “normal,” expected part of college life. 

However, it’s important to remember that not only is it not a requirement to drink and use other substances in order to have a fun, normal college experience, for many, it’s an explicit choice to not use. Many entering (or re-entering) college may either be sober/substance-free as a lifestyle choice or as part of their recovery journey. Others may experience a shift in their college experience, initially engaging with substance use and later realizing it is not for them (again whether for addiction-related reasons or more general and proactive lifestyle reasons). Even if you choose to use, we can create safer spaces for ourselves and others if we are intentionally inclusive of those who are choosing not to use.  

New Offering, “Sober Voices” 

Whether you are sober, in recovery, curious about your own substance use, looking to learn more about others who don’t use, or interested in the overlap between substance use and other areas of your life, HPW is excited to offer a new way to explore these topics. We’ve partnered with the team at Sober Voices to provide our campus community access to informative videos and panel discussions on various topics related to sobriety. Check them out here! We invite you to watch these on your own time, with a group of friends, as part of ongoing education and exploration as a department, club, or organization, for personal introspection as well as community care.  

For faculty, staff, and student leaders on campus – reach out to HPW for a discussion guide to help you host a group viewing and discussion (guides are offered for the videos with an asterix). Help us share this resource with our community and we welcome your feedback. Watching these videos may prompt you to consider your own use – know you can reach out to HPW for help navigating on-campus and off-campus resources and referrals. 

  • Keynote: Brandon Anthony & Annie Grace  
  • Panel: Challenges in Accessing Sobriety for BIPOC 
  • Panel: Finding Love (and Sex) While Queer and Sober 
  • Panel: Disability Stigma: To Disclose or Not? 
  • Who’s Missing? Making Sober Spaces More Accessible and Inclusive with Lazarus Letcher* 
  • College Drinking: Changing the Narrative with Khadi Oluwatoyin* 
  • Normalizing and Glamorizing Sobriety with Shea Gomez* 
  • Rock Bottom is Not a Pre-Requisite to Sobriety with Tawny Lara* 
  • The Power of Sober Curiosity with Kirstin Walker* 
  • #CommittingtoClarity with Elijah McKinnon* 
  • Nutrition and Sobriety: Simple Strategies to Support Your Body Through Food During Early Sobriety and Beyond 

Existing Programs & Ways to Learn More 

As always, HPW offers weekly peer-led workshops designed to help you learn more about alcohol and cannabis use and ways to practice harm reduction (these workshops are called CHOICES and can be found on our DeHUB page). We also have a Collegiate Recovery Community that meets weekly to support students who identify as being in any type of recovery (again, you can sign up on DeHUB or by emailing hpw@depaul.edu). We also offer 1:1 sessions called BASICS, which provides you a space to assess your use and receive individualized feedback about your use (email hpw@depaul.edu to register).  

Please reach out with any questions or concerns, and we’d love to hear how these videos impact your understanding of college fun and inclusivity. And remember, Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care DePaul. 

How to Use Early Intervention to Decrease Student Stress

It’s no secret that college students often feel stressed. It’s not easy to balance academic success, self-care, maintaining a social life, and work. While most students are bound to feel some stress, feeling stressed all or most of the time can have long term effects. 

When someone is already feeling stressed, or when being stressed is normalized, it can be difficult to reach out for help. Going to a weekly therapy session just feels like another item on the to-do list, adding more time for self-care seems impossible, and some may find it more stressful to be open about their experiences with another person. In these instances, it is important to view mental/emotional stress like we do physical stress. If someone sprains their ankle, chooses not to rest or go to the doctor, and running and lifting heavy things, and doesn’t tell anyone their ankle hurts then the injury is only going to get worse. That is why early intervention is so important for those experiencing a decrease in their mental and emotional wellbeing- without intervention it will only get worse. 

Mental Health First Aid describes early intervention as “recognizing the warning signs of a mental health or substance use challenge and acting before it gets worse” (Mental Health First Aid, 2021). There are a number of ways students can make their mental wellbeing a priority before the effects of stress cause a deep impact on their lives. 


  • Start counseling early in the quarter: The first couple weeks of classes can feel manageable. There won’t be a lot of assignments, there’s usually plenty of time to spend with loved ones, and the stress of midterms or finals has yet to happen. While some may feel like it is premature to meet with a mental health professional when they don’t feel overwhelmed with their emotions, starting regular sessions at the early signs of stress may decrease the chances of someone becoming overwhelmed in the first place.  
  • Plan for self-care daily: It can be easy to feel like there isn’t enough time for self-care, especially when we are feeling stressed. However, this is the most important time to increase our engagement with self-care practices.  And the activities should relate to the needs that aren’t being met due to the increase of stress. For example, if someone is feeling disconnected from friends because of all the time that needs to be spent on schoolwork, they might schedule 20–30-minute hangouts. This can help maintain social connections and act as healthy break from studying.  
  • Schedule regular check-ins with a peer or professor: Some people may not want to meet with a mental health professional for a number of valid reasons. In this case, having a trusted person in their life who can see them or talk to them regularly, point out when it seems their stress level is increasing, and offer support that is appropriate for both parties might be a better option. If the support is coming from another student, the individuals can even be supports for each other. It is often easier to be open about difficult experiences with someone we feel understands our experiences.  
  • Reassess Time Commitments: When every minute of every day is planned out, individuals can feel too busy to stop and recognize that having too many responsibilities is causing stress, anxiety, or depression. It is important to have a well-rounded schedule that includes time for academic success, social activities, and personal wellness.  We can only give as much to others as we are giving to ourselves, and it is better to step away from a couple of responsibilities than to get burned out and need a long break from most or all of our previously planned commitments.  

Checking in with ourselves and honoring our emotions is not always an easy task. But hopefully by having a support system who is open about their mental health and is understanding when we need to take more time for ourselves, and knowing our own limits, we can be better prepared for when stress does show up in our lives.  



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How to Support LGBTQUIA+ Mental Health

To honor Pride month we wanted to share some tips on how to support these community members. Mental health is an important factor in every person’s life, however experiencing mental health conditions while also being in the LGBTQUIA+ community can be even more stressful and less talked about. In the video provided Tally and Jasmine discuss their experiences of being in the LGBTQUIA+ community and how it intersects with their mental health, as well as coping strategies. 

LGBTQ Mental Health Matters


An important factor in strengthening the mental wellbeing of people in the LGBTQUIA+ community is having social support (https://www.lgbtqiahealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Suicide-Risk-and-Prevention-for-LGBTQ-Patients-Brief.pdf). Support can be shown to members of the LGBTQUIA+ community in a number of ways and doesn’t necessarily have to come from other members in the community to have an impact. One way to show support to members of the LGBTQUIA+ community is by acknowledging their strengths which may include: 

  • Social Intelligence  
  • Empathy for Others 
  • Courage 
  • Creativity 
  • Authenticity  
  • Resilience 

(To have a deeper understanding about mental health experiences in the LGBTQUIA+ community look through the Mental Health Coalition’s Roadmap to LGBTQ+ Mental Health).  

Acknowledging these strengths can also be a way to tell people that their worth is being recognized beyond their identity in the LGBTQUIA+ community. Supporting the mental health of anyone means supporting them holistically, not just specific parts of their identity.  

And while there is a wider acceptance of members in the LGBTQUIA+ community, it is important to provide intentional support to these individuals. As Alok Vaid-Menon says in an interview with StyleLikeU “When we go to the club everyone is going to say ‘Oh my God, I love your outfit’ but no one is going to say ‘How are you getting home?”. Some ways to intentionally show support are to:  

  • Make no assumptions 
  • Use inclusive language  
  • Respond to anti-LGBT behavior 

(Visit GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit to learn more about creating accepting and supportive environments for member of the LGBTQUIA+ community).  

In order to not make assumptions we need to use non-judgmental questions to know what type of support the individual is asking of us. When an individual does disclose that they identify as LGBTQUIA+, its important to understand how they would like to be addressed. Ask if they use a different name or pronouns than ones indicated on official paperwork. If someone does approach you about services related to the LGBTQUIA+ community ask if they are looking for services that are in-person or virtual, anonymous, on or off campus, or about any other service types that are sensitive to the privacy of their identity. Don’t bring up their identity around others unless they do first or have explicitly stated that they are open about their identity. Disclosing one’s identity is a very personal process and everyone does it when they are ready- never pressure anyone to disclose if they are ready but simply provide support.  

It may also be beneficial to direct peers/students to resources that can offer ongoing support. The LGBTQIA Resource center hosts multiple programs throughout the year, has all gender inclusive restrooms, and can support students with name changing name/gender on university documents. They also provide resources for allies including a pronoun practicing website. The greater Chicago area has many outlets that the LGBTQUIA+ community can turn to for mental health support, some include Center on HalsteadIntraSpectrum, and Howard Brown Health Services 














Recovery in College

What comes to mind when you think of recovery? Perhaps you think of being in recovery from drug or alcohol use. While this is part of what it can mean to be in recovery, it can encompass many more things as well. For instance, someone can be in recovery from a mental health challenge, an eating disorder, a traumatic experience, among other things. Anyone can be in recovery and oftentimes you may not know that someone identifies as being in recovery, and college students are no exception to this; anyone including college students can be in recovery.

Being a college student who identifies as being in recovery can present additional challenges. Many people, students, staff, and professors alike, may not understand what it’s like to be in recovery and to be a student. Especially now in a virtual environment, many of the preexisting challenges are merely exacerbated. It can be difficult to self-advocate for the necessary support as students may not know what resources are available to them, may be unsure of how to ask for support, might be anxious about self-disclosing information, or may be unaware they need support in the first place. Additionally, oftentimes it seems like a big part of the college experience revolves around alcohol or drug use. This can be a hard arena to navigate, especially if people around you encourage or pressure you to drink. In fact, colleges/universities are known as “recovery hostile environments” given the nature of what is normalized and glamorized. Going through college while in recovery can be a uniquely challenging experience. Whether it be substance use, mental health, or another form of recovery, it may be difficult to find a community that truly understands that experience.

DePaul offers the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) as a resource and place of support for those who identify as being in recovery. This is an excellent place to find support among other college students who identify as being in recovery. The group meets weekly on Thursdays, 5-6:30pm, and has been operating virtually this past year. While some in recovery may attend off-campus meetings as well, many of the group’s members find it helpful to be able to talk with other peers in recovery who are also college students. For example, it can feel very validating to not only know other peers who are sober but also other folks who are sober and understand the pressure of finals week. For those who are in recovery, here are a few tips to consider:


If you don’t identify as being in recovery, but want to know how you can better support those who are in recovery, here are some ways to be a better recovery ally:

  • Take HPW’s Recovery Ally Training (Register on DeHUB).
  • Believe and support those in recovery by being understanding, listening, and caring.
  • Respect boundaries – if someone doesn’t want to share any piece of their recovery journey with you, respect that!
  • Avoid normalizing or glamorizing substance use. Substance use is not an inherent part of the college experience. Normalize sobriety, glamorize substance-free fun, have sober options at parties, make folks who don’t engage with substances feel included.
  • Know other resources that you can offer to folks who may be interested in recovery.

If you are interested in DePaul’s CRC, have any questions, want to learn more, or are looking for support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, we are always here for you!


Office of Health Promotion and Wellness


Phone: (773) 325 – 7129


Email: hpw@depaul.edu


Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @healthydepaul


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Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Others, Take Care, DePaul!




Recovery Resources

How to Say “I’m Not Okay”

For the last Mental Health Awareness month post, HPW wants to give the DePaul community some support with having deeper conversations about mental health.  

Recognizing symptoms of mental health in ourselves may be an uncomfortable process. It can include changes in daily living, starting and/or reintroducing therapy into weekly schedules, thinking about potentially triggering topics (i.e. anniversaries of traumatic events) and discussing active mental health experiences with the people in our lives. Research from the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that discussing mental wellbeing may be most difficult for adults age 18-34 when compared to other adult age groups.  

 The APA did not indicate any reason why young adults (including many college-aged people) seem to struggle the most with accepting their mental health experiences. But, in the DePaul community we can encourage ourselves and our peers to be more open about our experiences. We can start by educating ourselves about mental health topics, including the concept that mental health is just as important as physical health. General Practitioner Helena Temple is one of many health care practitioners who are engaging in conversations about why “It’s OK not to be OK”.  




As she points out, the sooner we can recognize and verbalize our mental health symptoms the sooner we can be supported in increasing our mental wellbeing. For those who have never been to therapy or haven’t had access to information about mental wellbeing it might be difficult to understand what the signs of mental health distress are. There are some confidential online resources that can assess if an individual should seek support for their mental wellbeing, including a mental health screening on Hope for the Day’s website. 

Knowing how to start the conversation can help ease some of the tension that comes with disclosing mental health experiences. We have provided an outline for how to approach someone about mental health experiences when the time comes. 


Step 1: Reflection 

Maybe an anniversary to a triggering event is approaching, there are more stressful events than usual, or current environments aren’t providing the necessary support. Thinking about why these feelings are coming up may give a better sense of control over the situation. 

Step 2: Write Down or Practice What To Say 

Spend time writing out a script or bullet points that summarize your current condition. To get even more comfortable with saying the feelings out loud, try practicing on a pet, a picture of the individual, or a recording.  

Step 3: Start Small 

Think of the ripple effect. One small pebble can eventually make a ripple through the whole pond, but only after making smaller ripples first. Approaching one or two individuals to start the conversation can create more comfort in talking about the thoughts and feelings surrounding the mental health condition. 

  Step 4: Carve out More Time for Processing 

Focusing more on school, job responsibilities, or relationships instead of internal thoughts seems like a welcome distraction. But not taking steps to process the current feelings will only perpetuate them. Whether it’s starting therapy, finding a peer support group, or dedicating more time to a spiritual practice, there needs to be a shift in the time spent processing the current emotions. 


We understand that this outline might not work for everyone. If having a face-to-face conversation feels too scary it’s okay to send a message, talk on the phone, or write a letter. If there is a history of negative experiences with disclosing mental health symptoms it can be difficult to trust that the person receiving the information will respond in a constructive way. Should this be the case, starting with calling a hotline rather a loved one may be easier. What is most important about the process of disclosing personal mental health experiences is that it is done in a way that feels safest for the individual disclosing. And as always, HPW is here for you. We can be reached at 773-325-7129, through our email hpw@depaul.edu, our virtual office zoom link https://tinyurl.com/hpwvirtualoffice, or visit our website go.depaul.edu/hpw to see the list of resources HPW offers. 



National Alliance on Mental Illness: 800-950-6264 

Illinois Mental Health Collaborative for Access and Choice Warm Line: 866-359-7953 

Trevor Project Lifeline (LGBTQ+ Hotline): 866-488-7386 

Asian LifeNet Hotline: 877-990-8585 

National Alliance for Hispanic Health: 866-783-2645 

Illinois Call4Calm Textline (for emotional support with struggles from COVID-19): Text TALK or HABLAR to 552020 














Mental Health Support in AAPI Communities

In May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, a time where we raise awareness of the toll mental health can have and the many stigmas associated with mental health among many other mental health-related aspects. Through social media campaigns, events and even screenings, organisations across the United States participate in providing key resources for something that affects us all. In that same breath, just as many organisations come together during May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The contributions and influence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made in the U.S. are highlighted and acknowledged. That is why it is only fitting that the intersection between these two is recognised.

While the U.S. categorises many into the term AAPI, we understand and recognise that encompassed within are a wide range of unique and diverse identities, countries, nationalities, and ethnicities. Many who have not only experienced great joy and achievement but unfortunately have also experienced a variety of different challenges, struggles, and trauma. Through the perpetuated model minority myth, various microaggressions, and physical violence, AAPI communities have been and continue to be unjustly treated.

Before we can dive deep into ways to support and resources, understanding barriers to support is the first step as we seek to overcome them. While there are a few, there is still very limited knowledge about AAPI mental health as a result of limited studies which have included individuals from AAPI Communities. “According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, serious mental illness (SMI) rose from 2.9 per cent (47,000) to 5.6 per cent (136,000) in AAPI people ages 18-25 between 2008 and 2018.” (https://www.mhanational.org/issues/asian-americanpacific-islander-communities-and-mental-health)

Many young Asian Americans do not seek professional help for their mental concern but rather they turn to their networks. Another thing we see is the lack of awareness for resources along with the still existing stigma around mental health within AAPI communities. This could be considered one of the biggest deterrents for seeking professional help. Other factors include cultural identity, faith, language barriers, and access to insurance and healthcare.

Firstly, as an ally allowing members of the AAPI communities to take charge in spaces and conversations relating to issues they are facing is a major facet of support. Lettings their voices to be the ones heard and amplifying them are good ways to start. Being mindful of language and phrases used when speaking about or addressing members of AAPI communities is also important. Ensuring that stigmatising or stereotypical words are not used and accepting correction can go a long way; again listen to what members of the communities are saying. Additionally don’t be afraid to reach out and show solidarity and support. Check-in and provide resources when you come across them. This goes back to the conversation about de-stigmatisation of mental health issues, show you care with a listening ear (if you have the bandwidth to do so!). Lastly, simply asking, “how can I support you” allow whoever it is to be in charge of the way they receive support. Do they need you to just be that listening ear? Do they just want a space to talk through things and need resources to do so? The answer only comes when you respect their dignity and ask.

For those seeking resources whether for themselves or others, here are some both on and off-campus.

Some resources at DePaul include the APIDA Cultural Center within the Office of Multicultural Student Success, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and University Counselling services.

Off-campus, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum is focused is improving health among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association has a wealth of resources including a directory of mental health service providers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders as does southasiantherapists.org which is a directory of South Asian therapists of various heritages. The University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute partnered with the #IAMNOTAVIRUS campaign and the Asian American Literary Review to provide a Mental Health Workbook that includes literature, journals, and lots more resources to support Asian American mental health.

How to Recognize and Decrease the Effects of Burnout

In the 1970’s Herbert Freudenburger coined the term “burnout” and defined it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results”. He created the term after recognizing similar experiences from people with careers in “helping” professions. Since then, our understanding of who experiences burnout has evolved. People can feel burnout from many things, such as their job, school, interpersonal relationships environments (such as remote work/class). As we near the end of another quarter at DePaul, students, professors, and staff/faculty may be experiencing the collective burnout that often comes with finals week and still being in a pandemic. The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness wants to encourage all members of the DePaul community to recognize the signs of burnout in themselves and take time to reinforce or introduce boundaries that can decrease the effects of burnout. 

Burnout can be closely related to the amount of stress one is facing. Stress can be a positive tool to stay motivated and a sign of growth. However, it depends on the amount of stress and how the person can handle different stress loads. In an article written for helpguide.org they explain that the brain does not recognize differences between physical and emotional stress. They discuss various kinds of stress including: 

  • Workplace Stress 
  • Job Loss/Unemployment Stress 
  • Financial Stress 
  • Caregiver Stress 
  • Greif and Loss 

While that list does not provide all forms of stress (such as academic) it does highlight the idea that all individuals are experiencing some form of stress at almost any point in their lives. The article also explains that the stress changes from a constructive factor (helping to stay focused or alert, increase energy levels) to a deconstructive factor (frequently feeling overwhelmed or easily anxious) when there is an excessive amount. There is no official answer to how much stress is “too much” but recognizing the signs of burnout can help with figuring out where the excessive stress is coming from. 

Signs of burnout can include: 

  • Chronic exhaustion 
  • Having cynical thoughts about school/work/peers 
  • Feeling like tasks that were once manageable are now impossible  
  • Isolating from peers, co-workers, and family members 
  • Not participating in community events  
  • Experiencing heightened depression or anxiety symptoms  
  • Taking on more responsibility than is realistic. 

Signs of burnout can look different for everyone which is why self-reflection and time for yourself during high stress times is important. And while these side effects may seem obvious, it is possible that the person experiencing burnout is unaware that they are showing these signs. Overloading daily schedules, working more than is expected, and agreeing to take on more tasks when already feeling overwhelmed is often revered. However, these actions are not sustainable and contribute to the large-scale burnout that so many people seem to be experiencing.  

When transitioning from one responsibility to the next (such as from work to class) spend even five minutes doing something that is fun and relaxing and not on your “to-do list.” We fuel our burnout by overextending ourselves rather than providing more space for self-care.  

But this does not have to be an individual process. By reaching out to peers, friends, teachers, co-workers, supervisors, or professionals we can get support and help. DePaul has multiple resources that support students in creating routines to remind us that we have value outside of academic and workplace responsibilities including: Health Promotion and WellnessUniversity Counseling Services, and the Collegiate Recovery Community