Topics in Mental Health

Creating a sustainable culture of mental health and wellbeing is a top priority at the University of Iowa. As part of this effort, university experts provide insight and guidance into the many aspects of how to integrate work and life so we can best care for ourselves while also caring for others.

A pot on a stove with its contents steaming and nearly boiling

It Makes Me So Mad: Managing Upset in the Workplace

Workplaces can be like families and neighbors in that we typically do not get to pick who is a part of these groups. Often these relationships work marvelously and sometimes they can be difficult, stressful, and even contentious.
A handmade sign on the side of the road that reads "Thank you!" in red lettering

Strategies for Coping and Thriving Through Adversity

As I reflect on my experiences working in health care over the last few years, I can’t help but think of the exhaustion the staff at University of Iowa Health Care has felt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through witnessing that exhaustion, I have gained an even greater sense of pride and appreciation for health care workers around the world.
An aerial view of a forest treeline bordering a green field

Healthy and Productive Means Setting Boundaries

I love working in higher education. It is a privilege to work for the greater good with people I respect and admire. My work gives me joy, energy, and a great deal of satisfaction. I’ve also seen higher education be a highly challenging place to work. Higher education inherently values “performance and delivery” as part of its culture, e.g. getting that big grant, working through the weekends, earning that award, and so on. This value can leave us with a feeling of stress that never ends because we may feel our work is never good enough and because we always have more to do.
Wooden blocks that spell out "Thank you" with a paper heart in between the words

How Gratitude Promotes Inclusivity

Gratitude is a sense of appreciation an individual has for the goodness in their lives, both within and outside of themselves. Expressing gratitude helps improve human connection, which is an essential part of inclusion. Like gratitude, inclusivity is associated with positive emotions, decreased stress, increased sense of well-being, strengthened interpersonal relationships, and improved workplace climate and performance. The objective of inclusion is for an individual to be respected, valued, and supported. Inclusion encourages connection that can be fulfilled through acts of gratitude.
An electric plug unplugged and laying on a hardwood floor

How To Talk About Politics While Not Talking About Politics

By now, we know the outcome of Tuesday’s elections (hopefully), and have lived through another cycle of campaigns, yard signs, TV commercials, the 30-second radio spots, and social media posts.

I’ve found myself asking, “When will it all be over?” Given my role in the Division of Student Life, I’ve spent years helping registered student organizations plan political candidate or elected official visits. That is always non-partisan, hard work and never seems too political. Ironic, I know. It’s more about where the stage goes, when the candidate will arrive, the expected crowd size related to fire safety capacity, what door is designated as an emergency exit, or if candidates travel with security. While the political or electoral world is spiraling, I find it helpful to intentionally not focus on those topics. Instead, I turn my focus to what brings me joy.
Two people in a yoga pose at sunset

Compassion Fatigue

I’m tired, not “burned out” – I love my work, my family, and friends. I engage in activities that help me feel good. As I’ve reflected on what might be contributing to my fatigue, I’m reminded of two periods in my life.
An assorted set of colorful paintbrushes and desk toys

Embrace Change and Discover Something New

When we are in emotional crisis mode, as we were during the COVID-19 pandemic, all our energy is directed toward coping with the crisis at hand. When there is forced structure and expectations, e.g. we were told to get vaccinated, wash our hands, and practice social distancing, it is clear what is expected of us. Now, as we continue to transition out of crisis mode, we can lack that dependable structure of expected and structured choices. While the coping skills and self-care that you established during the pandemic got you to this day, you may now find yourself feeling emotionally and socially pressured to fit into the dichotomy of either the pre-pandemic “normal” or of operating in crisis mode of limited and forced choices.
Two people in a boxing ring with a coach or referee standing outside the ring

Responding Effectively to Offensive Behavior

Picture this: You’re at work or out in the community and you witness someone treat another person in an offensive manner. Maybe someone makes an offensive comment, subtle or otherwise, toward someone else. You consider intervening to support the person being targeted, but instead you decide to stay out of it, to not get involved, to stay neutral. Arriving home later that day you think, “I wish I could have done something.” Well, actually,…you probably could have. So let’s talk about this so you can be prepared to help a fellow human in need the next time something like this happens.
A level measuring tool

Is the Balancing Act a Myth?

When listening to a podcast featuring Steve Shriver, Iowa entrepreneur and CEO of Eco-Lips, something he said about balancing work and life really resonated with me. It was about the ability to manage one’s work life and life outside of work being a myth. Shriver discussed how different stages in his life and business endeavors called for him to flex where he was spending his time.
A cell phone with an image of a heart in a text bubble inside of a tree greenery surrounding it

Social Media: What’s the Right Fit for You?

A year and a half ago, a friend texted me to ask if I was selling RayBan sunglasses on Instagram. I was not, and it was clear that my account had been hacked. I deleted my account and haven’t re-opened it since.