In the midst of a global pandemic and rising concerns for health and safety among the Knights community, Bellarmine faculty and staff have remained dedicated to helping students care for their mental health and live their best life during their time at Bellarmine.

Following the return to in-person classes and living on-campus, with mask and vaccination requirements still in place, Bellarmine’s Student Activities center has been hard at work organizing events, activities programs meant to invigorate students’ feelings of community and hope. 

“When we think of students, and we think of student experience, I think something we really focus on is students finding their home and their fit, and their belonging and that sense of belonging on campus,” said Associate Director of Student Activities Eliza Surdyke. 

“The involvement [Involvement Fair] is one where it’s probably not directly tied to mental health and wellbeing, but giving students that opportunity to find student organizations that are of interest to them and helping them find peers and connections on campus I think is a big one.” 

“That Fresh Check Day that I mentioned that’s happening tomorrow out in the Quad, where they’ve got multiple different offices coming together to have tables and do different de-stressing activities is one.” Fresh Check Day is an event which allows students to take stock of their mental health and determine areas in which they may be struggling. 

“Friday Night Lives have been happening each Friday throughout the semester.” Friday Night Live is an event where students can meet in the quad for a night of food, fun and other festivities.

 “We’ve had a few Cookies and Canvas focusing on being creative and painting and having that opportunity to kind of express yourself in that way.” Cookies and Canvas is a de-stressing activity which allows students to express themselves through painting while enjoying some baked goods.

In order to assist students who experience trouble academically as a result of abundant stress, depression or other mental health complications, Director of Bellarmine’s Accessibility Resource Center Ronda Purdy has worked tirelessly to alleviate such stressors and help students flourish in their studies. 

“Most of our work is one-on-one and involves approving accommodations, coordinating follow up accommodations (like note takers and audio books), communicating with faculty,” Said Purdy, “we have invited more students to come for weekly meetings so we can help them with time management, communication with instructors, adjustment to college, and test anxiety management.” 

To guarantee the wellbeing of members of the Knights community and ensure that they know they have a place on campus where their voices can be heard, Bellarmine’s Counseling Center has been hard at work raising awareness of services previously offered by the office, as well as making available new services meant to focus on the long-term mental health of students.

“We train Res Life Staff, Peer Ministers, and WOW [Week of Welcome] leaders in understanding our services and how to make referrals,” said Director of Bellarmine’s Counselling Center Dr. Gary Petiprin, “We are also participating in something called Jed Campus , which is a four-year initiative to develop a strategic plan for promoting mental health, substance abuse prevention and suicide prevention. We will be working with the Jed Foundation in this process and a multi-disciplinary team comprised of faculty, staff and students. We are the only Kentucky college to participate in this process.” Jed Campus is an organization which provides assistance to educators who hope to support students’ mental health and wellness. 

Though the world may seem hectic at times, though there may be moments where the future seems bleak, institutions on Bellarmine’s campus have remained dedicated to proving to students that they are not alone and will always receive help when it is requested.

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