April is Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month - and it’s certainly a stressful time of the year for oral health learners. While the Class of 2021 starts working toward their graduation and entrance into the profession, students at every level of their studies continue working toward the end of the semester. Especially this year, it’s bound to catch up with you.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, you’re not alone. A 2014 review of existing literature revealed that “dental students experience considerable amounts of stress during their training,” particularly due to the rigor and pace of the program (Elani et al., JDE, 78(2)).

Though this month is stressful, it’s also an excellent time to review the many resources available to students in the School of Dentistry who might be experiencing stress.

“One of the advantages of being part of a large University is all of the resources available to students,” explained Sara Johnson, assistant dean of student and resident affairs.

She encourages students who are experiencing stress or other mental health struggles to reach out to her or anyone else in her office to get help, and to know that they’re not alone. “It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, and there are people and resources available without judgment.”

One such resource that’s specifically for health science students is BeWell, which focuses directly on wellness and stress management. Through BeWell, students can undergo free health coaching, attend webinars, and get calendars with simple wellbeing strategies that can be incorporated into everyday life.

In addition to BeWell, students can access a variety of resources through the Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. The Bakken Center shared the following resources focused on wellbeing, stress management, and mental health:

  • “The Bakken Center has offered mindfulness programs for individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities for more than 15 years. All classes are being offered online and are a great opportunity to develop a personal practice.
  • The new Wellbeing Guides feature tips and strategies to help you focus on your wellbeing. We have one available for students and one available for the general public.
  • We offer a no-cost website, Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing where you can complete assessments and learn how a holistic approach to wellbeing can help you discover health, contentment, purpose, and connection.
  • We host free webinars on various wellbeing topics. You can learn more about upcoming webinars there and view recordings of past webinars as well.
  • We are also hosting free weekly online Mindful Monday sessions, which include gentle mindful movement and guided meditation.”

The Bakken Center also provides a folder filled with practice cards and tip sheets to help put those wellness ideas into practice. You can also sign up for the Current newsletter or the Monthly Mindfulness to learn more about programming, academic resources, and tips for staying well.
Most importantly, students at the School of Dentistry and beyond should know that their community is here for them as they experience stress and other mental health issues. “We want all students to find the support that works for them and their individual needs,” said Johnson. “We’re here to help them find a way to move forward in a way that works for them and their unique situation.

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Mental Health Advocates in the School of Dentistry. Mental Health Advocates are volunteers trained to help students, staff, and faculty find resources and support for wellbeing and have extensive knowledge of campus resources. Mental Health Advocates also support or implement unit-wide strategies designed to promote good mental health. Please note: a Mental Health Advocate is not a therapist, nor are they solely responsible for student mental health.
Students, staff, and faculty are always welcome to talk to the school’s Mental Health Advocates and get more information. Call, email, or stop by one of their offices.

You will find the most up-to-date information about the status of campus mental health services here.