Mental health at Lindner: Coping, resiliency and resources
Breaking down stigmas, building ‘grit’ and where students can seek help
This is part two of a two-part series examining mental health at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Part one assessed the ways students balance rigorous academic loads, and how staff and faculty supply awareness and understanding.
Potential remedies to mental health issues are well-established in American lexicon. Yoga. Mediation. Therapy. Medication. Rehabilitation. The list goes on.
The step prior to the possible endgame is often overlooked: asking for assistance.
“If you feel like you need help, it's so hard to come to terms with the fact that you need help,” said Eiji Maruishi, BBA ’24. “It feels like you're being weak when you're first doing it, but once you realize how much better you feel after you realize why you're stressed, why you're unhappy — you look back and think about why you didn't reach out. It's kind of frowned upon.”
Battling the long-held stigmas surrounding mental health is tough enough. But a specific, common struggle for college students is burnout, characterized as negative emotional, mental and physical reactions to prolonged stress. An Ohio State University study tracked student burnout in 2020 and 2021. In August 2020, burnout was measured at 40%. Nine months later, in April 2021, burnout was at 71%.
Lindsey Jones, BBA ’23, said she extended herself too much during the 2021-22 school year. On top of Jones’ academic obligations — she is a marketing major and pursuing minors in finance and professional sales — she held leadership positions with multiple student organizations and was the vice president of member experience for her sorority. Jones also commuted to Kenwood, Ohio, to work 20 hours a week.
“I had no social life. I barely had any time to get studying or homework done. I was squeezing it in — barely,” Jones said. “That was just the most burned out I think I've ever felt. I felt exhausted all the time. And it felt like there was no end in sight. There was no way to fix it until the semester ended.”
Coping with college
Jones decided to live with the consequences of signing up for responsibilities beyond her means, but has since reduced her workload. She joked that Google Calendar is her “best friend,” and that she would be a “complete tornado of stress” without this technological coping mechanism.
A graduate of Lakota East High School, located roughly 25 miles north of UC, Jones has reserved more time for herself. Yoga classes encourage mindfulness. She’s also reintroduced passions into her life, such as baking and arts and crafts.
Maruishi had never considered his own mental health until a few years ago. The marketing major was suffering from performance anxiety stemming from playing high-level baseball. Now, he sees a therapist regularly and is a “huge advocate” for mental wellness.
“Some people are just mindlessly working just to not come to terms with what they're stressed out about, worried about and upset about. That just accelerates the burnout process because you're going to snuff yourself out of any chance of feeling better,” Maruishi said. “You're going to get immensely sick. You're not a machine. And I think a lot of people treat themselves like one, and when expensive machines break, they take a while to fix.
“You could just implement 15 minutes every day to do daily maintenance, or you can have a catastrophic event to where you're out for a week. I think that daily check-in definitely helps.”
The Northern Kentucky native prefers simplicity with his coping mechanisms: staying present and taking deep, soothing breaths.
“Sometimes you just have to take deep breaths, smile and know it's going to work out,” Maruishi said. “One of the things my therapist said is to note a couple things that you can use your senses with. So, what can I hear right now? You have to be in the moment to know what you're hearing. What can I see right now? What do my toes feel like in my shoes? That sounds crazy, but it keeps you here and not thinking about next semester or stressing about the next co-op.”
Resiliency and grit
Coping mechanisms play a vital role in building healthy resilience. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the “process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”
Daniel Peat, a management assistant professor-educator and PhD candidate, strives to build resiliency and ingrain the concept of “grit” into the mindset of his students.
“There are a lot of sides to it,” Peat said. “A lot of my students will note that I use a lot of gallows humor and dark humor, and part of that is because it’s a known coping mechanism.”
Some people are just mindlessly working just to not come to terms with what they're stressed out about, worried about and upset about. That just accelerates the burnout process because you're going to snuff yourself out of any chance of feeling better. You're going to get immensely sick. You're not a machine. And I think a lot of people treat themselves like one, and when expensive machines break, they take a while to fix.
Eiji Maruishi, BBA ’24
To Jones, developing grit is combating difficult moments with a positive mindset.
“When times get tough, you may feel like you have huge weights on your shoulders and an unlimited amount of things to do,” Jones said. “Even if it seems scary, even if it seems impossible, you’re still going out there every day doing what you need to do.”
Maruishi believes that because success and failure can be subjective, it’s easy for any minor inconvenience to feel like a catastrophic failure.
“It’s the ability to cope in terms of what works for you and to be resilient and allow yourself to fail — because you’re resilient and you know that you’ll be able to get back up,” he said.
Lindner, UC resources available
What support systems are in place to assist Lindner and UC students? And what can staff and faculty do to help?
The Lindner Mental Health Curriculum Community of Practice (CoP) encourages course instructors to integrate the following message on the first day of classes:
- Mental health is real and matters — take it seriously; we certainly do!
- “We” can be interpreted as either we the class, we at Lindner or we at UC.
- Stressors and reactions to it vary vastly.
- Mental health concerns are not all or nothing, the level lies on a spectrum of intensity.
- Do not ignore a situation. If you see something, say something.
The following table, courtesy of the Mental Health Curriculum Community of Practice, contains mental health resources for Lindner and UC students:
Counseling and Psychological Services
513-556-0648 (24/7 Crisis Hotline)
|Bearcat Support Network
|Peer-led weekly support groups (5-10 students)
|Campus Recreation Center (CRC)
|Physical activity can help contribute to mental wellness
|Talbert House Crisis Line
|Greater Cincinnati community crisis line
|Mental Health Access Point
|Low-cost or sliding scale treatment options
|National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
|Crisis Text Line
|Text START to 741-741
UC staff and faculty also can become Mental Health Champions, whose participants go through training and make a pledge to support students, staff and faculty with their mental health. UC students and benefits-eligible employees also can sign up for a free premium subscription to Calm, a digital health app that helps lower anxiety and decrease stress.
Sarah Jernigan, senior academic adviser, undergraduate programs and co-facilitator of the Mental Health Curriculum Community of Practice, believes that UC has made great strides toward making mental health resources accessible for students, but notes that many students remain unaware of the assistance available.
“There are numerous options for students: professional university counselors, student-led mental health groups and forthcoming college-specific counselors. All of these are great attempts to support students mentally,” Jernigan said. “However, some students simply aren’t aware that there are multiple free mental health resources available to them. For this reason, it is vital that student-facing staff are well-versed regarding resources so that they can relay information to students as needed.
“Additionally, I believe it’s advantageous for faculty and teaching staff to provide mental health resources within their syllabi to increase the likelihood of awareness of such resources.”
Featured image: Students in the Lindner Hall atrium. Photo by Alex Fradkin Photography.
Mental Health Resources
If you are a student in need of mental health support, first know that your struggles do not make you weak or an outlier. You are not alone. Second, there are multiple resources available to assist you, notably UC’s Counseling and Psychological Services.