I recently presented my talk on mental health to a group of women leaders at the Coalition for College Women’s Leadership and I walked away with more information gained than they did, and that was the intent.  I structured this presentation into two parts. The first part was my story of loss and what I learned along the way, and the second part was set up for them to share what they are doing for mental health and this is where the real heavy lifting occurred.  These women are leaders in the Greek system back on their respective campuses, and their insight is indicative of their willingness to take on this tough subject and gives me optimism for the future.

Allow me to share you the thoughts of these bright women when discussing mental health in their fraternity/sorority chapters:

  • A mental health position should be elevated to the executive level.  Possibly under Risk Management or the Personnel Chair.
  • Some chapters have a “Watch Care” chair which appoints at least one girl in every new associate class that looks over her sisters.
  • Some chapters have a “Sunshine Committee” run by their standards chair and they have girls reach out to sisters who are going through something or haven’t been around lately.
  • Wellness nights—get everyone together and raise spirits.
  • Bring mental health clubs like Active Minds and Jed Foundation to chapter meetings.
  • Philanthropy is good for mental health—stress this to your sisters.
  • One chapter had all the sisters sit in a circle and they wrote down how they were feeling, and then other sisters read this out loud.  They did not read their own statements, and this let everyone in the room know what was going on mentally in that room. Direct quote: “It was a real eye opener for all who attended.”  They called it WHO IS IN THE ROOM and it gave a voice to the voiceless.

As you can see, these women taught me a thing or two on how to bring up mental health with their peers, and what was really cool about this whole session was how this generation is willing to talk about this.  They are truly willing to talk about mental health and that did my heart well to hear this.

Thanks ladies, you all took me to school, and I am grateful for it.

Dennis