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The challenge of just being

| Friday, May 1, 2020

At Notre Dame, something in the air seems to create a “go-go-go” mentality, striving toward a perfection that is ultimately unattainable. Our culture reinforces such an atmosphere, making the facade of that perfection more prominent and often without being authentic enough to understand how we each feel inside. At school, many of us thrive in the patterns of constantly doing: dedicating ourselves to coursework, joining new clubs, applying for leadership positions and spending time with friends — all while trying to sleep at least a little.

Since mid-March, our student body has been presented with the stark change of not only experiencing Notre Dame virtually, but also while remaining almost exclusively in our homes. Almost overnight, we went from a group of students encouraged to do as much as we can to being presented with one task: just be.

This essence of being, while seemingly simple, can present challenges for anyone due to its abrupt disruption of daily life. COVID-19 has left our student body with lost internships, lost college experiences, lost jobs and, worst of all, lost loved ones. Naturally, one can experience discomfort about the uncertain future, helplessness about the pandemic or a lack of motivation to continue through online courses so different from the in-person classes that form an integral aspect of our Notre Dame experience. Managing the anxieties and uncertainties of our present moment can feel all-consuming. Impending final exams may heighten some or all of these feelings.

If you have struggled to develop a new routine, view classes as all but a priority or feel that your present environment is not conducive to your well-being, you are not alone. Whether you have struggled with mental health since first coming to Notre Dame or are experiencing these obstacles for the first time, your feelings are valid. Now is more a time than ever to express compassion to our neighbors and destigmatize conversations surrounding mental health. The grief, worry and loss permeating our world affect us all in unique ways.

Encouragingly, this new essence of being in which we find ourselves presents the opportunity to engage in new facets of our lives: being present in phone conversations with friends and extended family, being grateful for health and safety and being patient, doing our best to channel a faith in what is to come.

Please know that the University is here to help provide resources with the understanding that our student community is likely dealing with mental health challenges we haven’t quite faced before. These resources are designed to be cognizant of how underlying mental health struggles may be exacerbated or take different forms during the COVID-19 public health crisis. National calming apps like Sanvello are offering free premium subscriptions during the pandemic, and the UCC offers TAO on its website to provide therapy services while away from our home under the dome. For daily content regarding coping strategies during the pandemic, consider following @McWellND on social media. We call upon the University to improve the quantity and quality of resources available in light of the current global circumstance. Prioritizing mental health, especially during this unique time, is just as important as physical health.

If you’re having a bad day, try to embrace the challenge of just “being.” If you’re having more than a bad day, please visit ucc.nd.edu and make use of the virtual resources available. Regardless of your personal needs, seeking help is a courageous and brave thing to do.

If you are in a crisis situation, please contact the UCC Hotline at (574) 631-TALK.

The Student Government Department of Health & Well-being sends a sincere thank you to the healthcare workers, front-line employees and other community members who have put their lives on the line to save ours. Check out the #StayHomeND campaign on Student Government social media for more access to mental health resources the UCC and McWell are currently providing. 

In Notre Dame,

Student Government Dept. of Health & Well-being

Grace Dean, junior, director

Gabriel Ramos, sophomore, department member

Aidan Crowley, junior, department member

Kathleen Barry, freshman, department member

                  Grace Fjermedal, sophomore, department member

Keely Thornton, junior, department member

Erin Hiestand, junior, department member

Grace Franco, freshman, Walsh senator

Mary Do, freshman, department member

Rachel Jennings, sophomore, department member

Owen Ivan, junior, department member

Yi Wang, sophomore, department member

Gianna Arnieri, freshman, department member

Claire Miller, freshman, department member

Claire Murphy, sophomore, department member

Elaine Teeters, freshman, McGlinn senator

Eliza Smith, freshman, department member

Henry Bates, freshman, department member

Camaren Cuenca, sophomore, department member

Apr. 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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