Engagement & Mental Health
What is Recharge Day?
The March Recharge Day is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24. This day off from classes is designed for students to take a break from classes and studying. If your student is looking to connect, there are in-person and virtual activities planned throughout the day. It’s also possible that your student is just looking forward to catching up on sleep or their favorite TV show. Either way, encourage your student to take advantage of this day to recharge and disconnect in whatever way feels best. Students will be able to sign up for activities once the schedule is finalized.
How can my student learn what is happening on campus?
Even during COVID-19, there are many things going on at RIT that students can participate in. Students can learn about events and activities in a number of ways:
- The RIT Events calendar is the official site to find all events and happening on campus hosted by departments and programs.
- A lot of event information is shared via email—your student might have to check their email preferences to make sure they are receiving emails. There are also digital screens throughout campus advertising events.
- CampusGroups is where students can find event details and registration information for events put on by student clubs and organizations. Students can search by group, event type, and date.
- RIT Student Life posts a weekly events listing every Monday on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Here are some ideas to have your student look out for based on their interests:
- College Activities Board (CAB) is one of the primary organizations that sponsors activities for students. CAB hosts a variety of student happenings including movies, shows, DIY activities, and major events such as FreezeFest.
- The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) hosts programs such as Into the Roc and Alternative Break that give students volunteer experience and opportunities to get off campus.
- Spirituality and Religious Life offers a variety of services and activities for religious groups, as well as Building Bridges over Brunch, a monthly topic-based discussion group.
- No Voice Zone is an opportunity for student of all levels to learn ASL. No Voice Zone meets virtually every Wednesday evening.
How can my student get away from their computer and move?
We all know the important role exercise plays in our overall well-being! Encourage your student to take advantage of RIT facilities and make sure they’re getting away from their computer. The Fitness Center has been moved to Gordon Field House, creating a large, open area for students to exercise safely. The Aquatics Center is also open for lap swim. Both facilities are currently operating on a first come first served basis, and students can check current facility occupancy online prior to arrival. Students can also take advantage of the nature trails and 3-mile loop around campus for some outdoor activity.
Where can my student hang out with friends safely?
Since there are restrictions on gatherings in RIT housing, Ritter Arena has been transitioned to a student center to provide a safe place for students to study, eat, and relax. The space includes plants, lighting, and furniture to create a comfortable environment and video games, pinball machines, and cornhole boards for entertainment. There are additional areas throughout campus for dining, studying, and hanging out, including Fireside Lounge and some dining locations. Students can also use the interactive campus map to find study areas around campus. As warm weather returns to Rochester, activities will move outdoors.
Who can help my distressed student?
The pandemic has caused many new stressors for students, who may be facing new and unexpected challenges. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is a great first stop for students needing support. CaPS provides confidential and personalized services to meet your student’s mental health needs.
The CaPS office, located on the 2nd floor of the August Center, is open, however all appointments are virtual at this time due to the pandemic. CaPS has shifted most of their services to telemental health, which is offered in a secure and confidential Zoom platform. This includes individual therapy, group therapy, urgent care sessions for crisis support, and single session therapy.
To schedule an appointment, students can call CaPS at 585-475-2261 or send a confidential message on the RIT Wellness Portal by selecting Counseling Services—for General Questions. CaPS staff will ask a few questions to determine which service is right for your student.
If your student is located outside of New York State or is not eligible for telemental health services, call CaPS at 585-475-2261 to identify additional options that work best for your student.
If your student doesn’t know where to begin or needs support that is not provided at RIT, our Case Managers can help.
Are there drop-in counseling options?
CaPS is offering a variety of non-clinical virtual drop-in groups designed to help students thrive and connect during a time of transition and uncertainty. These groups provide an opportunity to discuss reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and its many consequences, including:
- Abrupt transition to online learning
- Unexpectedly leaving your campus community
- Adjusting to living at home again with family, friends, or alone
- Grief regarding important semester milestones being cancelled or postponed
- Fear about illness
- Uncertainty about co-ops and jobs
A full listing of connections and registration for sessions throughout the semester is available to students via CampusGroups.
How can my student learn to connect with others?
Making new friends can be difficult, especially during a pandemic. TigersConnect: Embrace the Awkward Workshops are the perfect opportunity for students to make social connections while building their communications skills. Groups meet once a week for 5 weeks to work on conversation starters and increasing confidence levels related to engaging in conversations with other students. Workshops are offered both in-person and virtually. The next TigersConnect workshop starts on March 22. Students can register via CampusGroups.
How will I know if my student is struggling?
Academic concerns, feelings of isolation, and general pandemic stress can cause a student to struggle. As a parent, you might be the first to recognize that your student is in distress. You may recognize signs from times they’ve struggled in the past or just get the feeling that something is “off.”
Here are some specific indicators you can look for in your student:
- Sudden disorganization or disengagement
- Missing classes or coursework
- Decline in grades
- Significant weight gain/loss
- Lack of hygiene or personal care
- Excessive fatigue/lack of sleep
- Unusual emotional responses
- Irritability or anger
If you notice your student is in distress, open up the conversation (tips below) and refer your student to RIT resources as needed. In the case of an emergency, reach out to Public Safety for a wellness check.
How do I talk to my student about mental health?
Conversations with your student about tough topics—including mental health—can be challenging. If you notice your student is struggling, you will want to help. These conversations are important even if you do not yet see signs of struggle in your student.
Here are some tips to help get the conversation started with your student:
- Make time and space for the conversation—don’t be in a rush.
- Listen. Sometimes it’s best to just let them talk it out.
- Be empathetic. Some issues may seem small but they are not to your student.
- Don’t immediately try to fix everything. This might cause your student to shut down and encountering challenges is an opportunity to build resiliency.
- Connect your student with RIT resources as needed.
Conversation starters are available in the February issue of the RIT Parent Newsletter.
How can I learn more?
Please join us for a webinar on Engagement and Mental Health at RIT on Tuesday, March 23 from 7-8 p.m. The webinar will include:
- Student engagement opportunities
- How students can find ways to get involved
- Mental health and counseling resources at RIT
- Q&A with staff from Wellness, Campus Life, Residence Life, and Counseling & Psychological Services
To register, please complete this form. The webinar link will be sent prior to the event.