Whether this is your first year at The University of Alabama, your last or somewhere in between, the beginning of a new semester is guaranteed to stir emotions. Excitement and anxiety can blend together into awkward grayish feelings that are often difficult to define, so it’s especially important to be considerate of your mental health and prioritize your well-being during this time.
With COVID-19 still lingering in our lives after a year of quarantine, there should be no shame in feeling slightly uncomfortable as we transition back to in-person classes, full dining halls and, eventually, maskless gatherings.
It is essential that we do not allow any mental health struggles that we face this semester to go unaddressed. It is okay to feel sad, lonely or nervous, but if those feelings become the norm, then it may be time to consider a change.
Last fall, I felt isolated as I attended the University as a freshman over 1,000 miles from home in a global pandemic. My experience at the Capstone that fall was, to put it lightly, unenjoyable. I had such a hard time that I stayed home for the spring semester and attended school as a fully remote student.
Now, I am not suggesting that anyone who experiences any mental health struggles this semester should fly home and take remote classes. However, I am encouraging you to use the University’s resources to have the best semester possible, both academically and emotionally.
One of the best ways to find emotional comfort on campus is by getting involved in clubs and student organizations. Get On Board Day is taking place Aug. 26 on the Quad, and it is an excellent opportunity to explore the organizations available on campus. Finding a group of people with similar interests can be monumentally helpful in establishing a sense of belonging at the University.
Students can seek more personalized help at the Counseling Center. Even if you are dealing with something as simple as stress over class, it never hurts to talk with someone, and the Counseling Center has staff who are there for that purpose. The Student Health Center and the Women and Gender Resource Center are additional on-campus resources.
Prioritizing your mental health could be as simple as communicating with your professors if you find yourself falling behind, or asking a roommate to get lunch together. This may seem small, but over the course of a semester you may find that these little things culminate in a more enjoyable and rewarding experience at the Capstone.
We are all attending The University of Alabama to grow — as scholars, as leaders and as people. Taking the time to address your mental health will not only benefit your life as a student, but your life as a whole.
Beyond our studies, we each have unique commitments and circumstances that we must learn to balance with our pursuits in academia. By fully utilizing campus resources, we can get one step closer to finding that balance.