Focus on Social Connections During Mental Health Month

masked friends sharing an elbow bump

The past year has impacted all of us in many ways. We’ve changed how we work, how we shop, how our kids go to school. We’ve also changed the way we connect with one another. Hugs and high-fives have given way to virtual get-togethers. And many faculty and staff continue to work remotely. But one thing hasn’t changed - we can all benefit from cultivating a sense of connection. In honor of Mental Health Month, this May, university health and well-being experts encourage building belonging and support.

“Check in with one another. A kind action or expression of gratitude can go a long way,” says Dr. Preeti Malani, the university’s chief health officer. “When we show caring for one another, we help create positive connections and community.”

Social connectedness is closely connected to mental and emotional health. When people feel connected, they have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Feeling connected also helps to create more empathy between one another, and that leads to stronger relationships across our community.

“Showing empathy and compassion is a gift you can give to your colleagues and loved ones,” adds Kelcey Stratton, resiliency and well-being services program manager at Michigan Medicine. “We can create opportunities to acknowledge the stress and fatigue that others are experiencing and let them know that they are not alone. We could all use extra support and kindness in our lives, and there are resources available to help.”

Opportunities to Connect with Our U-M Community

Throughout the year there are hundreds of activities and events that are open to every member of the university community. Take a look at the events calendar on Happening @ Michigan to see all there is to do. There are also special opportunities planned in May.  

Need Someone to Talk to? 

If you could benefit from talking to someone, support is available year-round for all faculty and staff. Personal counseling is confidential, short-term, and always available at no charge. University faculty, staff, retirees, and their adult family members are eligible. You can also access online mental health screenings, as well as more information about health plan benefits, and upcoming support groups and workshops on the UHR website.

Model of well-being featuring the orange and purple colors, which represent social and mental/emotional well-being

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