Pandemic Profs: Serving as the First Mental Health Chair for My Sorority

Welcome to our series to give you a glimpse into Rowan University, our campus culture, and the lives of our students, while we’re practicing social distancing to protect society from the spread of COVID-19. Today’s story is from Elizabeth Madden, a junior isolating in her house in Monmouth County, NJ. Elizabeth is an early childhood education major with a focus on literacy studies. She who normally lives off campus during the school year, in a house with her sorority sisters.

A close up of Elizabeth Madden.When I heard that my sorority was creating a new position called mental health chair, I knew immediately that it was something I would like to be a part of. The executive board created this position to really highlight the importance of mental health in college and promoting resources that are available to us currently and beyond our college experience to ensure that we get the most of those.

Personally I wanted this position because I have struggled myself with mental health and have seen those around me struggle and get lost in the “college world” and wanted to help them out while also navigating the same struggles together. My goals for this new position are to raise awareness on campus and within our own sisterhood to help everyone get more informed on mental health and to stop some of the stigma that comes along with those words.

Elizabeth (on right) holds wooden painted Greek letters with a friend, the Greek letters fro Sigma Delta Tau.
We painted these letters for our sorority, Sigma Delta Tau.

Some of the activities I had planned were unfortunately not able to happen due to the coronavirus outbreak. I had wanted my sorority to get involved with the Out of the Darkness walk on campus through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I have gone to this walk since I was a freshman at Rowan, and noticed that Greek life was not heavily involved and thought that should change. I planned to host tables and fundraising events for this and also have our chapter go to the walk.

Self care isn't selfish sign.Next I planned to hold peer support groups in which I planned to schedule a library room before our chapter meeting and just hold an open one hour space where my sisters could come and talk about stressors in their life or their current anxieties they were having. I thought this would be a good idea because talking it out sometimes helps and makes you realize you’re not alone and a lot of people surrounding you are having these same feelings as you. This would give hope and an outlet.

I also planned to host a speaker, my mom, who is in the mental health field. She was going to come talk to the chapter and inform us on mental health and some of her healthy coping mechanisms she uses and teaches to her clients.

Lastly I was going to give away once a month or so, a mental health basket. In this basket was going to be coloring books and pens, an essential oil diffuser, stress putty and just simple de-stressors that can help calm them and refocus them in a time of uncertainty.

I hope that I can implement these next semester and come up with even more ideas on how to help my chapter and even the campus. 

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