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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

1,797 Cougs get their flu shot!

A record breaking 1,797 Cougs got their flu vaccine at our flu shot events this fall!

A flu shot is the number one way to prevent the flu. If you haven’t already gotten your vaccine, now is a great time to get it. Students can visit our medical clinic to get their shot.

When more Cougs get vaccinated, less flu can spread in our community. Don’t forget there are other healthy habits that can help protect you from the flu virus.

We hope you have a happy, healthy, and flu-free winter!

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Student Affairs is currently developing a toolkit that faculty and staff can use to help students who are in distress. The goal of the toolkit is to ensure students have a successful academic career by getting them connected to campus resources that will support their specific needs.

Faculty and staff play a key role in the lives of students. They work closely with them and are often able to notice when a student is having a hard time.

With the help of the toolkit, faculty and staff will be able to recognize potential signs of distress, respond in the moment, and connect the student to appropriate campus resources.

The guide will cover a wide range of concerns. For example, if a student experiences the loss of a family member, financial issues, violence, or a mental health concern, the guide will offer steps for helping the student and connecting them to specific campus resources.

To develop this guide, we reviewed similar toolkits from other universities and sought feedback from WSU faculty, advisors, deans, administrators, and staff. Our team decided to adapt a guide created by UMatter at UMass and tailor it to the specific needs of our community.

The toolkit will be available this fall in an online format. If you want to know when it’s live, you can subscribe to receive email updates about suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

We recently met with members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

During our meeting, we talked about goals for the SAMSHA Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant and what we’ve done so far.

SAMSHA grant goals

Promote mental health through campus-wide partnerships. Together, collaborative members are actively looking for ways to support each other’s mental health promotion efforts. For example, during our meeting, departments brainstormed the idea of adding a mental health component to their staff and student trainings.

Offer suicide prevention training. Last year we began offering suicide prevention training, Campus Connect. Over 430 Cougs have taken this training and we expanded it to an online format.

In addition to education on best practices for responding to someone in crisis, Campus Connect teaches essential communication and relationship building skills. Departments like Athletics and Residence Life find this training so valuable, they require their employees to take it.

Collect and evaluate data to refine our mental health promotion activities. We want all Cougs to get more information about suicide prevention and to get help if they experience a mental health concern. To measure our progress towards these goals, we use data from the National College Health Assessment and quarterly grant reports. This data will also help us understand how we can support students’ changing mental health needs.

Expand and improve programs for students. This past spring, we launched a stress management texting program which sends students tips for managing their stress – over 680 Cougs have signed up! Currently, we’re expanding this program for student-athletes, and we hope to offer it to more groups on campus.

Moving forward, we plan to adapt content from a research-based stress management workshop. We also are looking for faculty collaborators to evaluate the texting program.

Inform Cougs about support services and decrease stigma around mental health. We’re working with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication on a campaign to promote a mental health screening tool and educate students about resources and suicide risk factors.

For the remainder of our meeting, collaborative members gave updates on their current mental health promotion activities and we brainstormed ways to use existing resources to expand our efforts. The meeting concluded with feedback on a guide for responding to students in crisis, which is currently in development.

We look forward to building relationships with collaborative members and supporting each other’s work. If you would like to learn more about the collaborative and stay up-to-date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

How to overcome the bystander effect

How to overcome the bystander effect

While most of us are sympathetic toward helping someone, the bystander effect can prevent us from stepping in. The bystander effect is when a group of people sees a problem or someone in need, but no one does anything to help.

Why don’t we help? One reason why people choose not to help is because they observe and follow what other people are doing. So if everyone is passing by and not paying attention, we conclude that what’s happening isn’t a big deal. After all, no one else looks concerned.

You’ve probably experienced a similar phenomenon in class. The professor asks if there are any questions, and since everyone else looks like they understand, you decide to not ask your question. When we follow social queues from others it becomes easy to make assumptions that are not true.

So what can you do? Next time you see someone who needs help, pay attention to your reaction. You might be tempted to ignore what’s happening because no one else is doing anything. Instead, stop and ask the person who appears to need help if they’re okay.

Another reason why people don’t help is because of the diffusion of responsibility. This is when you assume another person will step in or someone more qualified will help. And when there are more people present, like at a party, the less likely it is someone else will help.

If you notice something like possible symptoms of alcohol poisoning, a couple fighting, or something else that just doesn’t feel right, don’t wait for someone else to step in – take action immediately.

What can you do? Recruit a specific person and ask for their help. Then give that person a specific job like calling 911 or turning down the music.

Overcoming the bystander effect can be difficult, but the solution is to recognize these instinctive responses and decide to help anyway.

If you want to feel more confident in your ability to respond to someone who needs help, sign up for alcohol safety or bystander intervention training.

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

When the fall and winter months roll around and there’s less sunlight, some people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that occurs during a specific season, and subsides for the rest of the year. Symptoms of SAD are different for everyone, but they can include low energy, poor mood, fatigue, and similar symptoms.

How light therapy can help

If you’re experiencing SAD or other types of depression, consider trying light therapy. Light therapy involves using a specialized lamp that mimics real sunshine and produces similar benefits. It can help improve mood, regulate sleep hormones, increase levels of vitamin D, and relieve other symptoms of SAD.

For best results, our healthcare providers recommend using light therapy for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. You’ll want to sit 16 inches to two feet away from the light, without looking directly into it.

Before you try light therapy, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about risks, benefits, and other special considerations.

What to look for when buying a light therapy lamp

Want to buy your own light therapy unit? Try to get one with at least 10,000 lux. This level of light is optimal for reducing symptoms of SAD.

If you’re a client with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you can use the light therapy lamp in their relaxation room (Washington Building room 302A). To access this lamp, all you need to do is talk with a CAPS staff member at the front desk during regular business hours.

Light therapy is just one treatment option for SAD and other types of depression. There are many other options you can try! If you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to drop in during Counseling and Psychological Services’ walk-in hours, or make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Who did you get your flu shot for?

Who did you get your flu shot for?

Do you want to help your friends, family, roommates and co-workers stay healthy? A flu shot not only helps prevent you from getting the flu, it also protects everyone in the community.

When you get a flu shot, you protect those you live with. You also help protect:

  • People who live in close quarters such as residence halls
  • Those with chronic illnesses and pregnant women who are at high-risk for flu related complications
  • Individuals who have a weakened immune system
  • People who are unable to get a vaccine, for example, people with allergies to the vaccine or any ingredient in it
  • Babies younger than 6 months of age who are too young to get a flu vaccine
  • Elderly people who are at a greater risk for getting ill from the flu

Cougs help Cougs stay well — and that means getting a flu vaccine.

Health & Wellness Services is giving flu shots every Friday from September 29 – October 27 between 10 am – 3 pm, in the Washington Building, room G41. Bring your insurance card.

Violence prevention for graduate students

Violence prevention for graduate students

As a graduate student, you can take an active role to stop violence from happening on our campus. By knowing what your barriers are and what you can do about them, you’ll be ready to make WSU a safer place to live, work, and learn.

Violence prevention for a graduate student will probably be different than it would for an undergraduate. Conversations about violence sometimes focus on social settings like parties where people are drinking, but maybe you’ve seen someone in a professional or academic setting do something hurtful. This could be a faculty member, fellow graduate student, or one of your students.

Gender-based violence and other harmful behavior like harassment and discrimination can come in many different forms and can happen regardless of education or position.

We all experience barriers to taking action when we see something that concerns us. As a graduate or professional student you might’ve felt:

  • Scared of professional retaliation
  • Hesitant because it’s not your business
  • Worried about what others in your department will think if you spoke up
  • Uncertain about who you can talk to
  • Concerned about power dynamics in a relationship (for example, committee chair and student, supervising faculty member and TA or RA, lab partner and you)

So how can you work around these barriers? The answer is to direct, delegate, or distract.

Direct. Do something yourself. If you’re concerned about someone, ask them directly how they’re doing and if you can help. If a lab mate or a student appear to be struggling, ask questions like, “Hey, is everything going okay?” or, “Do you need anything?”

Delegate. Ask someone else for help. Sometimes you aren’t the best person to intervene in a given situation. Asking someone else for help is always an option. Talk with your department chair, a faculty member you trust, or a fellow student.

Concerned about a student under your supervision? Contact the AWARE Network. The AWARE Network allows you to share concerns about a student’s emotional or psychological wellbeing, physical health, or academic performance with colleagues who can help.

Distract. Diffuse the situation by diverting people’s attention. For example, if you see someone treating another person in a way that’s not okay, try to distract from what’s happening. For example, you could chime in and start a conversation about an unrelated topic.

If you or someone you know experiences harassment, discrimination or gender-based violence there are resources available to help.

Want to learn more about how you can prevent violence? Check out our toolkit for faculty and staff and sign up for updates on violence prevention.

Overcome the stress of perfection

Overcome the stress of perfection

Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing. It can help you excel at your job and in class. But having standards that are too high can lead to stress and feelings of frustration when they’re not met.

Perfectionism is the tendency to set standards so high, they’re unattainable or only met with great difficulty. Someone who has perfectionist tendencies believes that anything short of perfect is a problem and fears making mistakes.

The effects of perfectionism

Feelings. Perfectionism can cause you to feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. If you tend to criticize yourself for not doing what you think is a good job, these feelings can be more intense.

Thinking. You might think anything less than perfect is a failure. You may believe your self-worth depends on your achievements and that others judge you based on your accomplishments.

Behaviors. Perfectionism can cause you to chronically procrastinate, have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily on something because you don’t feel it’s perfect. Perfectionism can also keep you from being creative and innovative.

Mental health. Perfectionism is related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress.

So how can you tell if perfectionism has gotten out of hand? Ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult for me to meet my own expectations?
  • Do I feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry when I try to meet my standards?
  • Do my standards get in the way of doing what I want or need to do?
  • Do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or be spontaneous?

Tips for overcoming perfectionism

Think realistically. Challenge negative self-talk with realistic statements and self-compassion. For example, when you start to be overly critical of yourself, try to be kind and remind yourself nobody is perfect.

Try a new perspective. When you don’t meet your own expectations, try and view yourself as a friend would. They’d probably highlight positive things. Sure, you didn’t work out five days last week, but you made it to the gym three times and that’s a perfectly reasonable amount.

Conquer procrastination. Perfectionists tend to put off to dos because they may be unsure how to do something perfectly. Try practicing self-compassion for overcoming procrastination.

Create realistic expectations. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Try to spend these resources on projects, assignments, and other things that are most important. Prioritizing your to do list and setting SMART goals can help you set realistic expectations.

Allow yourself to make mistakes. You might fear making mistakes, but making them is a completely natural and expected part of human existence. After you make a few mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not the worst that can happen.

The content in this post is adapted from Anxiety BC®’s guide on “How to overcome perfectionism.”

Community safety starts with a conversation

Community safety starts with a conversation

Creating a culture of support for survivors of stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault is essential for making our community a safer place.

When you share your knowledge about healthy relationships or how to support a survivor, it creates a ripple effect which improves our community’s well-being.

Plus, hearing about these issues from people we already know and trust is a major factor in changing unhealthy cultural attitudes toward violence.

So how can you start a conversation about violence? Here are some tips to help.

Know your barriers. Personal barriers can prevent us from starting tough conversations. You might be afraid of what others will think of you or feel like you’re not qualified to talk about this important issue. The key is to learn what your personal barriers are and find ways to overcome them.

Watch a movie and discuss it. Next time you watch a movie or TV show with someone, talk about the characters’ relationships – are they healthy or unhealthy? Being able to identify these behaviors in media can help you notice them in real life, either in your own relationship or someone else’s.

Share what you’ve read. Have you read something recently about violence that caught your attention? Talk with friends or family about how it impacted you. Ask them what they think and share your thoughts.

Get active on social media. Follow organizations and individuals who are posting about violence prevention and healthy relationships. Like or share posts from accounts like WSU Coug Health, Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

If you’re not sure what to share, considering posting a positive story or video about someone who took action to ensure another person’s safety.

Show your support for violence prevention. Stop by our programs and outreach office for a keychain or a sticker for your water bottle! You never know what will spark a conversation.

Don’t forget there are other ways you can help prevent violence. When more Cougs take action, less violence happens in our community!

Flu or cold? Know the symptoms

Cold versus flu

All of the sudden, something hits you, you have a headache, your body aches, you develop a cough… Is it the flu or is it a cold? Do you need to see the doctor? Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have a cold or your symptoms are flu related.

Viruses cause both colds and flus, so the symptoms are similar. Flu symptoms usually come on all of a sudden and are more severe than a cold, while cold symptoms come on more gradually.

Flu symptoms:

  • Sudden onset
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees
  • Cough
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Chills, fatigue
  • Deep muscle and/or joint aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/ or diarrhea

Cold symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny and/or stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Feeling tired
  • Mild cough
  • Mild fever

The flu can have severe complications so it is good to know when to see a doctor.

If your cold symptoms last longer than 10 – 14 days and are getting worse or not improving you should see a healthcare provider.

If you have a mild flu or cold, learn how to manage your symptoms at home.

If you need advice on over-the-counter medication to take, talk to a pharmacist at Health & Wellness Services Pharmacy, 509-335-5742.

Lower your chances of contracting the flu by getting a flu vaccine.

Get your vaccine at one of our Flu Shot Friday events or by visiting our medical clinic.