On a regular basis, I receive messages from sisters in my sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, about how to handle situations in their chapters when a sister is feeling depressed, anxious or having some other type of mental health illness. I decided it would be a good idea to disseminate information out for everyone to read on strategies you can take when a sister is struggling with mental health problems.
For chapter members
- Have a sit-down with the sister and let her know you are there for her and if she needs anything, you are there for me (and mean it). People going through depression and anxiety often feel isolated from others and need to know that there are people there for them.
- Connect with the counseling center on campus and have them come and do a workshop 1-2 times a year and especially with new members. If your school doesn’t have a counseling office, contact a local therapist and ask them to come in and speak. You can find a local therapist at Psychologytoday.com. If you are local to South Florida, either myself or someone from my office will be willing to come to your chapter meetings and present a workshop on healthy mental health tips.
- Encourage sisters to reach out to each other and do random check-ins, especially with sisters they may not talk to regularly but want to connect with.
- Incorporate healthy coping skills into programming, such as attending workshops on mental health issues, exercising together and developing healthy outlets for feelings.
- Get your chapter advisor involved if you feel the situation is too big to deal with at a chapter level. There are some mental illnesses that are very serious and you will need guidance from your chapter advisors. Do not wait until it is too late and the situation gets out of hand.
For chapter advisors
- Connect with the local counseling center and make sure you are familiar with standard operating procedures of the centers. Most counseling centers offer free sessions to students and it can be very easy to make an appointment.
- Familiarize yourself with local resources, such as the local mental health associations, community agencies and NAMI offices. They are often willing to come into chapters and do workshops or provide materials to chapter members.
- Get your Headquarters involved if you feel the situation is too big to deal with at the advisor level. Keep your Headquarters abreast of what is going on with the chapter member is an important function of the advisory boards.
- Attend chapter meetings and leadership team meetings and let the sisters know you are there to support them with all kinds of issues and concerns, not just when they are in trouble because of recruitment or formals.
- Be sure to review programming and calendars to ensure the chapter is incorporating workshops on mental health, healthy activities for events and an overall positive experience for sisters.
If there is more information you would like about connecting with a therapist or having someone from my office, Caring Therapists of Broward, host a workshop for your chapter, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at 954-378-5381 or Amanda@caringtherapistsofbroward.com.
I am available to provide recommendations for chapter presidents and advisory boards on all things mental health related. I would love to connect with sorority sisters across the country to help improve awareness for mental illness. You can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaPattersonLMHC/ or on Instagram and Twitter @amandaplmhc.
** If you suspect someone is a danger to themselves or others, check with your state and local laws in order to move forward in accordance with local regulations (in Florida, you call 911 in order to have law enforcement move forward with protecting the person).
Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-378-5381 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.