Students, faculty and staff in SIUE’s School of Pharmacy may forget to maintain their physical and mental health due to the demanding nature of their field. Kelly Gable, the School of Pharmacy’s recently named Director of Well-Being and Resilience, is taking a number of steps to help those in the School of Pharmacy stay mentally and physically well.
The School of Pharmacy’s former Mental Health and Wellness Taskforce, which was led by Gable in 2019, has since been reformed into the Well-Being and Resilience Committee, which Gable now oversees as its director. Dean of the School of Pharmacy Mark Luer said Gable’s background made her perfect for the position.
“She has a passion for self-care … She had already been very successful with a substance abuse and mental health services grant on suicide prevention, that was a university-wide program called SAMHSA … She brought together interested parties from across campus … She just has that documented history to lead those efforts,” Luer said.
The Well-Being and Resilience Committee not only includes faculty and staff, but also two students from each class, according to Gable. This October, they are promoting a sleep challenge to encourage people to get seven hours of sleep each night in October. In November, Gable said they are working with Alive & Well Communities to bring a four-part trauma-informed care series to the School of Pharmacy.
Students, faculty and staff in the committee have led virtual wellness activities, such as mindfulness exercises and monthly Wellness Wednesdays, which Gable said are accessible to all pharmacy students through a Wellness Team in the School of Pharmacy’s Microsoft Teams app. A video compilation of committee members sharing their tips for wellness is also publicly available on Gable’s YouTube channel.
As far as what well-being and resilience means to the campus community, Gable said it’s different for everybody, emphasizing that it shouldn’t feel like additional work. Another part of this, Gable said, depends on faculty and staff leading by example and doing themselves what they ask of students.
“One of the biggest things I think we can do as leaders is to demonstrate [self-care] ourselves,” Gable said. “We can push and really talk about all these wellness ideas and activities, but if we don’t do it ourselves, what does that say to our students?”
While Gable and the Well-Being and Resilience Committee’s efforts mainly focus on the School of Pharmacy, Counseling Services works to address the larger campus community.
“In terms of what kinds of opportunities are generally available to the campus community, Counseling Services has always been home to an outreach and prevention education sort of subfunction, and Lisa Thompson-Gibson on my staff oversees … those efforts, and so she’s the person who sort of works with the campus community to broker what those opportunities would look like,” Director of Counseling Services Courtney Boddie said.
To help maintain their personal well-being and resilience, Gable said she encourages the use of Counseling Services, but also recommends external resources. These include the Crisis Text Line and a tool to find a therapist in your area from Psychology Today, which Gable said can help students who are thinking about seeking counseling but may not be ready to talk to someone about it yet.