It’s a bright fall afternoon in late October, and St. Lawrence University faculty, staff, and students are gathered on the quad for one of the most beloved event’s on campus—Doggy De-stress Day.
“We’re doing one every other week now,” says Director of Counseling Services Tara Tent.
In previous years, this event only took place during Finals Week at the end of each semester. Now, it’s incorporated into ongoing programming that promotes and supports students’ mental health throughout a semester that’s unlike any other before it.
“I think in general, under the best of times, mental health is a concern for college students just given the pressures they’re under,” says Tent. “The added layer of COVID-19 is definitely raising the intensity of mental health issues. This age group doesn’t necessarily know their resiliency and coping skills yet. That’s what they start to figure out in college. Not having all those things in place just makes them more vulnerable to what’s being called pandemic fatigue.”
To facilitate mental health programming that helps students build a support network on campus, Tent has worked closely with Vice President and Dean of Student Life Hagi Bradley and a team of students from Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology Cathy Crosby’s Community Psychology and Wellness Community-Based Learning (CBL) course. Bradley’s office has also prioritized investment in a robust offering of resources, such as a 24/7 counseling line, extended evening hours for counseling services, affinity groups for LGBTQ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) students, and outreach that begins as soon as students arrive for their first year on campus.