It is the end of Week six of the fall semester. We find ourselves in what is beginning to feel like a perpetual rush to “get to the next thing on the list.” And by “we” I would count just about everyone I’ve spoken to in the past few weeks. There is so much going on that we are all having trouble keeping up. So, I did the unthinkable earlier this week: I took a mental health day and cancelled all of my appointments. If you know me, you know I never take time like that unless I am sick. Even my practice staff was not sure what to do with this request. It will be interesting to see how my clients will respond to me next week. Funny thing is, at least two students also contacted me that day to say they were also taking a mental health day. There must be something in the air right now, and it is not Covid. I knew that I was not going to be at my best with clients that day, as they would not have had my full attention. Next week will be much better for all of us.
I will tell you mental health days are underrated, especially for mental health professionals. Also, in this past week, multiple students have told me they could not take time off from all of the things they were supposed to be doing because:
- They would fall behind and never get caught up
- Everyone else is getting it all done, so they would look bad, or lazy, or something
- The faculty would look down on them for not getting it done
- They didn’t know how to prioritize what to do first
- If they didn’t get this done and earned less than an A, they would never get an internship, job or admitted to doc school
Number 5 is my personal favorite; where in the world are you all applying that would deny you for not getting a 4.0 GPA?? Come on, now; is that really the place you want to tie yourself down to for the foreseeable future? The truth is this: if we ask about your mental health, or physical health, it is because we are concerned. Many of you have heard me say this in class or during supervision: you do not go to school in a bubble. Over the course of your 2, 3, 4 or 5 years with us, some of you will get sick, have a baby, start or end a relationship, or have a family crisis. In other words, you will live your lives while you are earning this degree. It would be so nice if the outside world would stop and let you get this degree in peace, but I assure you that will not happen. As such, it is imperative that we find some balance with our various life roles. If we cannot take care of ourselves, we will not be very helpful for our clients, or trainees, or our co-workers/peers. It is also imperative that we be able to step back and acknowledge when we have hit our limit and need to step back. We are not superhuman, and trying to prove that we don’t need a break is not a good message for anyone. I do a much better job after I show myself as much grace as I show everyone else, and I take a break every once in a while. I implore you to do the same!
In other news, we have two non-tenure line faculty this year, Dr. Anita Verma in social psychology and Dr. Mark Maluga in the counseling side. Both of these colleagues stepped into their roles at the end of July, and are doing all (or most) of their work remotely. As you can imagine, jumping into a position like this with less than a month to prepare is asking a lot of any human, and I am very pleased that they took it on this year.
We are moving forward in our search for a successor to Dr. Kelsey Thiem, who departed from Muncie to head back home to Nebraska and a teaching position at Nebraska Wesleyan University. More to come later this fall as we prepare for the interview process!
I’ll end here with noting that we had our department opening “picnic” (if you can call an indoor function a picnic) in September. We anticipate a similar function in December. In the meantime, we hope the year is going well for you. Reach out to your advisor, to Rachel Pleasant, and/or your instructor if there is anything we can do to assist!