Promoting Mental Wellness With Jack Robinson

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from instagram: @abby_grob

Last month, Jack Robinson, a Casady alumnus and psychology major at Davidson College, returned to discuss mental health and address the stigma surrounding mental illness for our chapel service. He urged our community to recognize mental illness’ significant impact on our society and further discussion on the topic. Conveniently, Casady has already begun crafting a student-wellness program to implement into all divisions on our campus.  In our interview, I focused on how Casady addressed mental wellness during his time on campus and how he addressed his own mindfulness as a student here.

Robinson felt there was an unawareness to student mental health during his time at Casady, and would love to hear of all the progress our administrators have made for this year.  Like most Casady students, Robinson struggled to find the balance between sleep, work, exercise, and food. However, his worst habits involved negative thoughts. He would “expand local events into a global context,” he admitted, and developed a tendency to see the negative before the positive. In our interview, Robinson stressed that an individual’s thought process can perpetuate mental shortcomings and promoted the necessity of building our mental strength. Everyone has the power to retrain our own minds by consciously monitoring the words we tell ourselves and reframing our perspective in a more positive light. Robinson encouraged us to reflect on our thoughts and focus on ways to improve, rather than dwelling on certain moments.

No one can control the adversities they will face, and this prospect often delivers stress to our students, but Robinson believes “a positive coping mechanism” can relieve such pressure. Tests, presentations, quizzes, in-class essays, DBQ’s, sporting events, or other high-stress circumstances appear inevitably in our daily lives, but students can manage such pressure with a strong and positive mindset. This difficult task frustrates most young adults, and many of us need a hand in helping ourselves. Thus, Robinson advocated for our administration to continue building wellness tools and outlets on our campus. Robinson also strived to comfort students who do not have the support to ask for help, as he emphasized how frequently individuals struggle with maintaining a secure mind. He recognized the unfortunate “taboo” surrounding mental illness that can prohibit students from addressing their own stress or anxiety. Today, our culture often ostracizes those who struggle with mental health, and frames mental illness around heinous stereotypes and characteristics. Thus, Robinson offered that “Gradual steps […] are the best way to implement systematic and cultural changes about something as large as mental health.”

One of Robinson’s recommendations included incorporating therapy dogs into our daily curriculum, which Casady has already begun. Overall, Robinson pushed for more open discussions in the classroom, chapel, or on the field that explore student mental wellness. The more we learn about ourselves and our minds, the better preparation we will have for the future. Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said it best, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”