Curious as to what has been going on within the Greek Life community at the University of Michigan? I had the opportunity to speak with Vice President of Finance for the Interfraternity Council, Max Rothman, about how Greek students have been proactive in their work to spread positive strategies and awareness surrounding Mental Health.
College has become especially stressful for students, and according to Time.com’s 2016 article, Why College Is a Risky Time for Students’ Mental Health, while many students do report suffering from significant concerns such as anxiety or depression, only a mere 12% sought out counseling. Rothman, a junior in Phi Delta Theta, has shown a dedication to spreading awareness ever since he first set foot on campus; sparking conversations across different student organizations. Most recently, he was able to work with the IFC Executive Board, as well as the active chapter presidents, to encourage and establish a “Mental Health Chair” within IFC organizations, a brotherhood position that has been implemented in most of the fraternities already. The position was inspired by the Peer Educator position that was created within Panhellenic Chapters in recent past.
“The purpose of the Mental Health Chair is to provide brothers with an outlet for other members to come to when they are in need, as well as being someone who is knowledgeable on the various resources on campus so that they can direct brothers to those resources ” Rothman said. So far there have been 34 members across organizations that have been trained, and Max has played a hand in both training the students, as well as advising them if they ever have questions or concerns. The training sessions are very thorough, Max told me, “The students go through various topics, such as: Question, Persuade, and Refer training for Suicide Intervention and Prevention, dialogue facilitation sessions hosted by UM’s Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as [restorative justice] sessions hosted by the Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center.”
So far, IFC members and organizations have been very receptive of the Executive Council (Board + Chapter Presidents) initiative, but Rothman believes there is still lots of room for improvement. “Because it is a new position, it takes time for organizations to bring the idea back to the general membership, and then vote on the newly created position, then actually establish a valuable resource for the chapter. We are building the trust that chapters are using this position effectively, and I know it has because many members have reached out to me saying they were appreciative of the effort.”
Now that the position has been created and impactful for so many organizations, Max hopes that the Mental Health Chair position in chapters will become attractive and highly sought after, and he is confident it will as he has seen the tremendous impact it has made on so many students. The Interfraternity Council, alongside the rest of the Greek Community will look to build upon this great start, and continue to promote the positive values that our organizations are founded upon.
Written by Cameron Dotson