Jodi was able to foster a sense of community and togetherness in an auditorium of over 400 students. Jodi placed great emphasis on mental wellness, distinguishing it from mental illness, and offered insights into promoting resilience. She offered numerous practical strategies (with web links and guided materials) to promote mental wellness for both the teacher candidates and their future students.
When I was dealing with an extremely extenuating circumstance right before an assessment, not only did Jodi give me an extension, but she routinely followed up with me to see how I was doing. She is extremely caring and genuine. She wants her students to know that she is there to support them, and actively makes accommodating efforts. I think everyone should have at least one conversation with Jodi as she is someone who listens - she wants to.
Mental health comprises our capacity to navigate the challenges that life presents. It consists of various factors, including the physical, emotional, social, mental, spiritual, occupational, financial, and cultural aspects of our lives. Mental health operates on a spectrum, and it is normal for our mental health and sense of well-being to fluctuate. Promoting positive mental health requires the active process of promoting balance and homeostasis. The art of positive mental health lies in the ability to draw strength and resilience from both good and bad experiences, without dismissing the hardships or genuine emotions that accompany these experiences.
I support student mental health by providing mental health resources, offering support when appropriate, teaching students how to recognize their own needs, providing a safe space to learn, and encouraging students to make decisions that align with their values. I remind students that their well-being is the priority by outlining ways in which they can care for their mental health and provide strategies so that they can teach others to care for their mental health as well. I also invite students to reach out to me if they need a space to talk or require any specific support. I model what caring for my mental health looks like and strive to reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges.
Educators can foster a classroom where it feels safe for students to exhale; meaning that they can take a deep breath, slow down, and rest when they feel emotionally exhausted. This process is not only important for supporting students through their difficulties, but also for providing them with an accessible environment to thrive. Educators can do this by introducing psychological wellness curriculum in their classes when it is appropriate to do so, provide expectations surrounding mental health accommodations/supports, and assist students in accessing appropriate resources.
University students are navigating the initial stages of a lifelong process toward learning about their mental health and well-being. It is not unreasonable to believe that there will be challenges along the way, resulting in the need for care, compassion, and patience. It is essential to change the narrative about how we speak about mental health and how we approach mental health difficulties, as these processes provide the platform for our students to show up both genuinely and authentically.
--- Jodi Basch