Eastern faculty speak on own mental health

Drew Coffey, Campus Reporter

Mental health for college students has become a highly prevalent topic of discussion when it comes to education.  

Countless assignments, approaching deadlines and trying to find time for activities outside of class can take a toll on someone after a long period of time.  

And while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mental health in the classroom is a large focus now more than ever.  

But what about the mental health of those on the other side of the classroom?  

Those who present lessons, act as a guide and friend to students and teach the foundations of education to, at times, hundreds of students.  

The mental health of university faculty and staff is a subject that can fall by the wayside when compared to students.  

According to Beth Bergstrom, a communication disorders and sciences instructor, time management is something that can bring a great amount of stress to her job.  

“We have an open-door policy here,” said Bergstrom. “Students can come in and sometimes it can be impossible to get work done while being available to help them.” 

“Sometimes we go home, and we still have so much to do to get ready for the next day,” Bergstrom said.  

Bergstrom said that she keeps notes on a white board to allow her time to get extensive work done. 

According to Bergstrom, she also goes to lunch with coworkers to clear her head on busy workdays.  

“It is great to just decompress,” Bergstrom said. “I have someone at work that I can talk to when I’m stressed, or we just go get lunch.”  

Bergstrom uses a planner to prioritize work as well as be available to help students every day.  

Booth Library Public Relations Director Beth Heldebrandt said scheduling programs and events in the library can keep her especially busy.  

“Something that helps me out is my smartwatch that tells me to take a break of some sort,” Heldebrandt said.” This is a pretty big building so even walking from the other end and back is pretty helpful.”  

Heldebrandt said that the beginning of the year as well as finals week are where she experiences the most stress in her job.  

An Associate Professor of Theatre Anne Thibault Green said that changing her ways of teaching amidst the pandemic has been especially challenging.  

“Figuring out how to teach these incredibly important skills to our students with the added challenges of keeping everyone safe while we’re doing it is something that can really add stress,” according to Green.  

“The limited resources and time to get things done that we want to get done along with the added pressures of the pandemic are things that have really been affecting my mental health and continues to as I try to keep my students safe in a field that really requires being face to face,” Green said.  

Green said that there has been an effort to alleviate the mental toll on teachers along with students through on campus events.  

“Last year in the school of the arts we had a month-long self-care event for faculty and students that was available in February so there are resources that are available to us,” according to Green.  

Green said that helping faculty as well as students with mental health during the school year is challenging, but is glad that certain events on campus are available to those seeking help. 

 

Drew Coffey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]