The start of the new year is a time during which many of us celebrate new beginnings by setting goals and thinking about the impact we want to make in the coming year. Once the initial celebrations end, the new year can bring tremendous changes and shifts that require us to adapt and readjust quickly—all of which can increase stress and anxiety.
The return to campus life often means leaving family and home life, a move that causes loneliness for many students. For students of color, it may also result in feelings of isolation when campus spaces do not reflect a variety of racial and cultural groups among students, faculty, and staff, and social events feel unwelcoming.
If you, like many students around the country, are dealing with anxiety around change accompanying the new year and the relocation from home back to campus life, the Steve Fund can help. Our resources aim to provide you with the tools you need such as crisis counseling (text STEVE to 741741) and connect you to peers. Here are a few tips to help you during this challenging time of year.
Stay Curious. Rather than becoming frustrated with your own resistance to change, ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Taking time to be mindful and reflect on your own feelings will help you give yourself the space and respect to work through those emotions.
Imagine. Carve out a few minutes to dream about the best possible outcome for this semester. What do you want your days to look like? Your time with friends? Your study habits? This exercise will help you identify what might be missing and create a positive vision for the days and months ahead.As we bring in the new year and the new decade, know that the Steve Fund is here for you. I hope these tips will help you manage some of the common thoughts and feelings we all have when it comes to navigating change and handling feelings of isolation. On behalf of the whole team, happy new year. We look forward to another year of working together.
The Steve Fund is thrilled to partner with the National Center for Institutional Diversity on the next round of Pop-up Research & Scholarship grants! Pop-Up Grants provide an opportunity for scholars to actively engage in diversity research and scholarship around emerging or re-emerging social issues and quickly disseminate findings to the public.
Announcement from NCID:
Diversity scholars (with priority given to members of the Diversity Scholars Network) are eligible for this opportunity. Scholars may apply for up to $2,000 in funding for a 6-month grant period. Grant recipients will receive support in planning and executing a dissemination strategy.
Grant recipients will submit a draft for NCID’s Currents publication (hosted by Michigan Publishing). Currents seeks to connect diversity scholarship to practice in education and society.
We welcome proposals that focus on the topic of mental health among marginalized communities.
There has been an increase in prevalence of mental health issues among students, which can be a detriment to the students’ academic performance and general well-being. Academic leaders have identified mental health as their number one concern and are searching for evidence and guidance to better support students. Mental health issues can particularly affect those from marginalized populations, such as people of color, low-income people, LGBTQ individuals, disabled people/people with disabilities, and immigrants. We are looking for scholars to further our understandings around the experiences of marginalized populations and their mental health. Understandings of this concept may be approached in various ways. For example:
- Barriers and strengths (e.g., related to structural, social, cultural, and identity processes)
- Relational contexts (e.g., families, peers, natural mentors, networks, especially those not usually included as relevant to well-being)
- Space and place (e.g., attention to climate in broader campus and day-to-day academic and social contexts, attention to region, digital media, virtual spaces)
- Innovative interventions that may tie some of the above together
- Historical approaches to understanding mental health among marginalized individuals
- Cultural production that promotes and addresses mental health
- Creative approaches to understanding mental health
Given the timeframe and goals of this opportunity, proposed projects must have IRB approval. We strongly recommend that scholars use existing data.
Wellness In Color: A Young, Gifted @Risk & Resilient Pre-Conference Gathering for Students
Many students know how difficult it can be to navigate the social systems of college life, but when you are a student of color, this journey comes with its own set of complex issues. The Young, Gifted, @ Risk & Resilient pre-conference, called Wellness in Color, was held at the University of Michigann in late October to give students a space to dialogue about the impact of perceived discrimination, exploitation, and racism on their campuses and how these issues contributed to and affected their wellbeing and mental health. The graduate students at the pre-conference appeared quite vulnerable to emotional exhaustion and mental health distress. They reported feeling like they had opportunities to do meaningful work, but also susceptible to adverse experiences because of inequalities in their respective departments. These students expressed frustration with the mismatch between their research interest and that of the department; not being included in, or informed of, opportunities and expectations; and the compensation for their graduate teaching positions, which substantially lags behind the job market for people with their qualifications.
As one of the facilitators at the pre-conference, it was hard to hear the painful stories of my peers, but I was determined to leave them with a sense of hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for better environments that encourage positive mental health. Hope for equitable opportunities regardless of race, class, or gender. Hope that our advocacy leads us to stories of healing, thriving, and higher graduation rates for students of color.
Many thanks to the Steve Fund and The National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan for giving us a space to share our experiences and encourage each other before the conference. Thank you also to the faculty who spent time hearing our concerns and answering our questions.
Alumnus, Steve Fund Youth Advisory Board