Dr. Bartlett always spends a few minutes in class to check up on our mental health status and how we were feeling and encourages us to reach out if we ever needed someone to talk to. I went through some things in my personal life which causes me to struggle academically. I emailed and went to her office hours to re-check my understanding of the lectures I missed, and she was really empathetic towards me and patiently walked me through the course concepts. She always double-checks with us during stressful academic seasons to see if more time on assignments is needed. During tough periods in the pandemic, she would check in with us and let us know she was aware of the stress we were experiencing and asked if more time on our take-home final essay will be helpful.
We all have mental health just like we all have physical health! Sometimes we're "healthy" and other times we're not. We need to remember that mental health is an important part of our overall health and not something to be ashamed of or shy away from talking about.
I encourage my students to reflect, think about how they're doing from a mental health perspective and most importantly to take action! If they need a mental health day then take one, just as we would if we were physically unwell. I also think it's important to view mental health on a continuum. Some days we'll be healthy, others less healthy which may very well be normal either due to the context of our life at that time. When students start having more bad days than good this may be an indication that something is amiss and that they may need additional support to move back to the healthy zone of mental health. By talking openly about mental health, helping students to view it as a continuum, that it's normal to have bad days when we're stressed with exams or other things, and that we have agency and choices in how to deal with it, I believe that we can all be healthier and happier.
--- Valerie Bartlett