By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the University of Iowa is finding new ways for students to stay healthy and strive toward achieving their goals.
The Mental Health America organization began in 1949 by presidential proclamation. Its mission continues to be raising awareness and educating the public about mental illness, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and achieving mental health and wellness.
“The physical and mental health of our student-athletes is a priority,” said Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair. “May has been declared Mental Health Month and provides an opportunity to bring awareness to this important issue.”
At the University of Iowa, counseling and sport psychologist Aubrette Kinne, who has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, offers tips to assist in achieving mental health and wellness:
Take deep breaths. Start by calming your physical reaction when stressed or overwhelmed.
Challenge your negative thoughts. Anxiety often convinces us our worries are facts, but they are usually not.
Engage in mindfulness. Focus on the present moment; accept yourself without judgment.
Allow yourself to feel. Express your emotions by naming them, journaling or art, music, or talking with someone you trust.
Show yourself compassion. Be kind to yourself; know you are trying the best you can and each day this looks a little different.
Consider your strengths. Reflect on the qualities and skills you have that can help you get through this.
Draw on your support system. Lean on your family and friends who you can count on to be understanding of what you are going through and help you get through it.
Reach out to a mental health professional. It is never too early to work with a therapist.
“The physical and mental health of our student-athletes is a priority. May has been declared Mental Health Month and provides an opportunity to bring awareness to this important issue.”Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair
As part of the Hawkeye Life Program Health and Well-Being Pillar, the University of Iowa Department of Athletics formed the Health and Well-Being Outreach Committee.
Health & Well-Being Outreach Committee members are: Kinne, Andy Peterson, director of primary care sports medicine, Terry Noonan, assistant athletics director, sports medicine and sports performance, Liz Tovar, associate athletics director, student-athlete academic services, Nicole White, director of sports nutrition, Kira Blum, assistant director of sports nutrition, Zach Walrod, strength and conditioning coach, Andy Winkelmann, director of educational programming — student-athlete academic services, Kara Park, senior associate director, student development and events — student-athlete academic services.
“This year’s theme is ‘Tools to Thrive,’” Kinne said. “The push is to identify things you can use to help yourself, a friend, or a family member who might be going through challenges.”
If you are in a suicidal crisis or feeling emotional distress, reach out to a primary care physician, therapist, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).