Baylor Professional: Don’t Lose Give attention to Religious and Psychological Properly-being | Media and Public Relations

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Baylor Social Work professor shares suggestions and sources throughout annoying half-way mark of semester

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, Baylor College Media and Public Relations, 254-710-1964
Comply with us on Twitter:@BaylorUMedia

By Jonathan Hill, senior advertising and marketing specialist, Baylor Advertising and marketing and Model Technique

WACO, Texas (Oct. 27, 2020) – October marks the midway level to the autumn semester and might carry all the thrill, stress and anxiousness of one other tutorial time period winding to a detailed. The month additionally sometimes marks one of many busiest instances of the yr for college counseling facilities throughout the nation.

With distinctive challenges in 2020 associated to COVID-19, the College has acknowledged these hardships for all within the Baylor Household by taking the initiative to give attention to psychological well being all through October.

Baylor College’s Holly Oxhandler, Ph.D., LMSW, affiliate dean for analysis and school growth and affiliate professor within the Diana R. Garland College of Social Work, is an professional on psychological well being, primarily anxiousness and despair, in addition to faith and spirituality in scientific follow.

On this Q&A, she shares suggestions and sources to college students, school and workers who’re dealing with all the typical challenges of one other mid-term whereas additionally navigating a world well being disaster.

Q: The 2020 fall semester supplied challenges and obstacles by no means seen earlier than in larger training. Why has COVID-19 been a uniquely annoying affect on the psychological and non secular well-being of scholars, school and workers?

There are a variety of causes COVID-19 has been a uniquely annoying affect on the psychological and non secular well-being of these in larger training. First, there are the unanticipated layers and studying curves of latest concerns and changes to course supply, security protocols, eating, campus actions and communication, to call a number of, on high of the standard changes and feelings all of us navigate firstly of every fall semester.

Second, these in larger training entered fall 2020 with out the “typical” summer season that’s wanted to reset, make changes and plan for the upcoming yr’s actions. For instance, many directors, school and workers spent the summer season not solely planning for the same old upcoming tutorial yr but additionally reconfiguring courses to be hybrid or on-line or concurrently embrace each in-person and on-line college students, along with modifying pupil actions and school analysis undertaking timelines and plans. For diploma packages that embrace internships, like social work, there have additionally been extra layers of consideration to be able to adjust to our skilled accreditation requirements.

Third, we acknowledge that many college students, their relations, in addition to Baylor school and workers members’ family members, have been affected by the financial affect of COVID-19, including a layer of economic stress.

Fourth, many inside the Baylor group – workers, school and college students – have wanted to juggle childcare and homeschooling their youngsters as they proceed to have interaction in their very own work and/or instructional expectations.

Lastly, the worry of contracting COVID-19, particularly among the many most susceptible and high-risk populations, has been consistently current.

Not solely are we adjusting to this tutorial yr with new methods of being and new protocols that hold us and each other secure, we’re additionally dealing with surprising waves of worry and layers of grief for the missed occasions, alternatives and connections we had hoped to expertise.

As resilient as our group is, I feel it’s vital to recollect we can not “function as typical” as a result of issues aren’t typical. As an alternative, we should permit ourselves and each other the time, margin, flexibility and style wanted to take a seat with and transfer by way of the rising feelings, grief, stress, loneliness, worry and uncertainty as they arrive. We can not skip or bypass these feelings, however as an alternative, should transfer by way of them, typically with the assist of family members and/or a educated psychological well being care supplier.

Q: Psychological and non secular well being are difficult throughout even a typical semester expertise. What are a number of the results and reactions you’ve witnessed to those circumstances amongst college students, school and workers in comparison with a non-COVID-19 semester?

As human beings navigating a world pandemic to one of the best of our capability, our psychological and non secular well being have all been impacted to a point this semester as we’ve individually and collectively confronted quite a lot of surprising difficulties. I’ve additionally seen a stupendous response to the truth of this collective battle in my interactions with Baylor school, workers and college students that features deep empathy for each other and a rise in valuing authenticity as we interact within the high-quality, significant work we every do.

It has been a present to witness Baylor group members holding area for colleagues’ and college students’ vulnerability as we admit that is arduous for numerous causes and acknowledge that we can not simply push our manner by way of this season. After we admit this isn’t simple and that we’re all juggling a lot to one of the best of our capability by way of thick layers of uncertainty, it offers these round us permission to confess their experiences, too. In truth, I feel once we create area for that shared vulnerability and empathy in our interactions with others, we are able to higher assess the present state of affairs, stay current to at least one one other and discern what steps are wanted to maneuver ahead collectively, notably as a result of we’re not carrying a further layer of effort pretending that every little thing is ok.

That stated, the Garland College of Social Work carried out a few well-being surveys since this summer season to internally test in on how our school and workers are dealing with this season and determine the most important stressors they’re dealing with and sources of assist. Our school and workers have additionally been regularly checking in on our college students by way of this season. Not solely can we see many noting the identical stressors that we’re all dealing with today, normalizing how tough that is for every of us, however the act of nonjudgmentally holding that area for ourselves and each other has been a tangible step of providing the care we all know is uniquely woven into the Baylor expertise.

Q: How can people inside the campus group are likely to their non secular well being to shut out the semester?

I’d invite readers to take a second to pause and determine a number of non secular practices that uniquely assist them effectively, even when meaning pondering again to much less annoying seasons. The important thing to notice right here is that these are practices which require common engagement, much like if we had been to follow a brand new instrument or sport.

Religious practices can differ primarily based on our religion custom and will embrace praying; meditating; centering prayer; studying our spiritual textual content; strolling a labyrinth; journaling; training gratitude; listening to a sermon or faith-based podcast; praying over and considering scripture; participating in creativity; training day by day ethical reflection; or listening to non secular music. Some practices might contain different people that may be achieved safely, together with looking for non secular course, collaborating in a Bible or faith-based ebook examine with others or participating in worship (even nearly!). These practices can provide a way of groundedness and a reminder that God is with us, together with by way of this season.

As we proceed to navigate this season of uncertainty, it’s vital that we deliberately weave in non secular practices that provide rhythms, routines and a grounded religion that may assist us effectively by way of the waves of issue. Particularly on campus, I’d encourage Baylor group members to observe together with Religious Life’s sources and occasions, or try Higher Collectively BU, a partnership supported by each Religious Life and Multicultural Affairs.

Q: How can people inside the campus group are likely to their psychological well being to shut out the semester?

Tending to our psychological well being on this final stretch of the semester will likely be so vital as we transfer into the stress of finals, the advanced feelings tied to the vacations, grief with upcoming celebrations wanting totally different this yr (together with how we have a good time holidays, who we have a good time with and the truth of many having misplaced family members to COVID-19) and the truth of seasonal affective dysfunction on the horizon. In truth, in a typical yr, about 5% of U.S. adults have seasonal affective dysfunction (SAD), with one other 10-20% having gentle types of it.

In gentle of all the added transition, uncertainty, complexity of caregiving and homeschooling whereas working/finding out at house, layers of loneliness and grief, I do hope our Baylor college students, workers and school will actively prioritize taking excellent care of their psychological well being and supporting others’ psychological well being care, too. A method I spotlight this with my social work college students is by recommending making a self-care plan that pays consideration to our bodily well being, psychological well being, social assist and non secular well being. If we are able to determine some methods to holistically look after ourselves effectively and be conscious of potential limitations to navigate, we might have extra resilience and practices to attract from to deal with challenges and stressors that come up.

Lastly, though NAMI highlights that 1 in 5 of us are at present dealing with a psychological well being battle, some research have proven that over 80% of us will meet standards for a psychological sickness by younger maturity or middle-age. Subsequently, I extremely suggest that anybody who’s noticing any adjustments of their temper, food regimen, sleep habits, behaviors or general well-being instantly attain out for assist. College students are inspired to succeed in out to Baylor’s Counseling Heart, CARE staff or the BARC. School and workers even have sources out there by way of Baylor’s worker help program. Different sources for locating a psychological well being supplier embrace HelpPRO, Psychology Right now, Low Price Assist or these extra sources. For many who are deeply struggling, please attain out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or textual content ‘HOME’ to 741-741 for the Disaster Textual content Line. As a part of my religion and my social work values, I consider that every of us are price caring for ourselves, together with caring for our psychological well being alongside our non secular and bodily well being.

Q: What successes or shiny spots have you ever seen inside your campus expertise that provide encouragement to how the Baylor Household has dealt with the disaster all through the semester?

I’m frequently amazed by the Baylor college students, school and workers, the methods we’ve navigated the disaster collectively this semester, and I’m particularly grateful for President Livingstone’s and Provost Brickhouse’s management since March. This semester, some shiny spots have included Dr. Deborah Birx’s reflections on Baylor’s efforts to maintain everybody secure from COVID-19, the Fall School assembly and Dr. Peter Hotez’s appreciation of how Baylor leaders have saved the Baylor and Waco group secure and following alongside when Baylor college students take over Baylor’s Instagram account (like Brandon Nottingham’s takeover on World Psychological Well being Day!). Because the Garland College of Social Work’s affiliate dean for analysis and school growth, I’ve additionally beloved studying concerning the methods so many Baylor school are providing their distinctive analysis experience and knowledge to serve others by way of this tough time, akin to Dr. Emily Smith’s “Pleasant Neighbor Epidemiologist” Fb web page to clarify COVID-19 info.

I’ve additionally been reminded of what a present it’s to be part of the Garland College of Social Work (GSSW) and this group of college, workers and college students. The resilience, creativity, love for serving others, dedication to the social work career and look after our college students is so obvious inside the GSSW. I’ve particularly seen how my school and workers colleagues have tailored programs and assignments, creatively thought-about college students’ wants and juggled their analysis obligations whereas extending grace to themselves and each other as we navigate this season collectively as a college to one of the best of our capability. Equally, seeing our college students’ resilience, flexibility, assist of each other, dedication to the career and coronary heart for the shoppers and communities they serve is really inspiring. Lastly, Dean Jon Singletary’s servant-leader coronary heart for the GSSW and the methods he has supported our college by way of a lot transition over the past 5 years has been a present. One instance of this consists of the 2 hours of weekly well-being time he extends for all GSSW workers and school to make use of in assist of our non secular and psychological well being care.

Q: What offers you hope for the spring semester and past as college students proceed by way of their tutorial endeavors?

In truth, our college students’ presence and their enthusiasm over the fields of examine they’re dedicating their lives to offers me hope. As a professor, there’s nothing like watching a pupil turn into totally alive within the work they’re enthusiastic about and really feel as if they had been made to do. Our college students’ willingness to completely take part within the transformational training that Baylor affords, particularly on this tough season of COVID-19, is an honor to witness as a professor and definitely offers me hope. Additional, seeing the methods our college students are empathically caring for his or her neighbor by following Baylor’s security pointers, rising of their religion, checking in on each other, understanding school and workers are doing their best possible and persevering with to display their willpower to study and develop is an inspiration.

My hope and prayer for our college students in addition to our workers and school colleagues as we transfer by way of the rest of the autumn semester and into the spring is that they relaxation as they should and prioritize taking excellent care of their psychological and non secular well being. I additionally pray that we acknowledge as a group that by caring for our non secular and psychological well being, by taking this season someday at a time, by trusting we’re doing our greatest and by reaching out for assist when wanted, we give others permission to do the identical.


Baylor College is a non-public Christian College and a nationally ranked analysis establishment. The College gives a vibrant campus group for greater than 19,000 college students by mixing interdisciplinary analysis with a global repute for instructional excellence and a school dedication to educating and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas by way of the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest regularly working College in Texas. Positioned in Waco, Baylor welcomes college students from all 50 states and greater than 90 nations to check a broad vary of levels amongst its 12 nationally acknowledged tutorial divisions.


Baylor College’s Diana R. Garland College of Social Work is house to one of many main graduate social work packages within the nation with a analysis agenda targeted on the mixing of religion and follow. Upholding its mission of making ready social employees in a Christian context for worldwide service and management, the College affords a baccalaureate diploma (B.S.W.); a Grasp of Social Work (M.S.W.) diploma out there on the Waco or Houston campuses or on-line; three joint-degree choices, M.S.W./M.B.A., M.S.W./M.Div. and M.S.W./M.T.S., by way of a partnership with Baylor’s Hankamer College of Enterprise and George W. Truett Theological Seminary; and a web-based Ph.D. program. Go to to study extra.

OMG is continually cementing what Social-First means, the way it positively transforms society over the long-term and most significantly, it should be the business mannequin companies convert to. The ethics we dwell by, form our values and tradition. We’ve made nice strides due to the assist we obtain from the general public.



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