The end of the semester is just around the corner. In a "normal" year, the end of the spring semester is a point when fatigue and stress can be heightened for both mentees and mentors alike. Add to that a few years of coping with a pandemic and all of its ramifications, and the end-of-the-year stress becomes even more palpable. It is a good time for compassion both for our mentees and ourselves.
Compassion for our Mentees
While we have moved beyond much of the immediacy and urgency of the pandemic, it still shapes our lives and our work in various ways. We know we can't simply return to "normal" as though there are no ongoing, residual or cumulative impacts, but understanding how to move forward can create new types of uncertainty and stress to add on top of fatigue.
Be aware and listen to what mentees are experiencing right now. Recognize things that may be particularly stressful. Give someone a chance to tell you what they are experiencing before jumping to conclusions. Below are some resources to support your mentees.
Community of Care
If you know someone in distress, you may be in a position to offer support or guide the person to an appropriate resource. The Office of the Dean of Students, Student Assistance Center, Emergency Dean Program, and Behavioral Intervention Team are here to help.
Campus Wellness Resources
This one-stop website helps students decide what kind of assistance they need and how to get connected to services for mental health, wellness, access, and accommodation.
Connecting with Broader Resources
Situations causing stress for our mentees can be connected to a broad range of topics, including academics, financial needs and interpersonal conflict. The Graduate College's Need Help page can help you connect with campus and community resources to support your mentees.
GradLIFE Podcast: You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup
Graduate student podcasters interview the Counseling Center’s Kamau Grantham, who gives everyone permission to take care of themselves and encourages the practice of self-care, an intentional skill that takes time to figure out. Things get salty as they contemplate the balance of ingredients in chocolate chip cookies. The podcasters continue the discussion with their favorite “mesources.”
Compassion for Ourselves
Mentors, of course, are not exempt from experiencing personal and professional stressors. Tending to our own wellness while supporting mentees' academic and career development can be a challenge. Some questions to consider include:*
- Do I/you have a positive strategy(ies) to handle stress?
- How might I support my/your self-care during this time?
- Do I/you have at least one practice that brings meaning to my/your day, week, or month?
- What support resources are available to me/you (e.g., local campus, national)
(*extracted from Reassess–Realign–Reimagine: A Guide for Mentors Pivoting to Remote Research Mentoring)
Faculty Staff Assistance Services (FSAS)
The Faculty Staff Assistance Services (FSAS) offers free confidential assistance to employees and their families who may be experiencing difficulties that impact their lives. This includes assessments, short-term counseling, crisis services, and referrals to appropriate resources. Please feel free to contact FSAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-244-5312 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. If you experience a crisis, outside of regular business hours, please call the FSAS Crisis Line at 217-244-7739.
Mindful Moments at Work
Illinois Extension offers practical, trustworthy ways to improve all aspects of your wellness through web resources and their Mindful Moments at Work newsletter.
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