Promoting Healthy Community, Ideas from Student Counseling ­Director Christopher Hanes (Teaching Tip)

As a Cyclone community, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. We have been impacted on a personal, local, national, and global level by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent and continued acts of racial and xenophobic violence. These stressors and events have impacted us all in unpredictable and significant ways. Our daily lives’ rhythm and routines that help ground us and often support our wellness continue to be disrupted. Identifying new coping strategies and wellness strategies can serve as an effective way to navigate these ongoing challenges. As members of our Cyclone community, we work to create a space for growth, learning, and wellness as we pursue our academic mission. The following tips offer how to help promote a healthy community for you, your students, and together as Cyclones.

  1. Promote Awareness: Identify signs of distress and know steps you can take to support yourself. Identify resources on campus and in the community that is available to help you when needed. You are not on an island in these situations. Many partners on campus are available to provide consultation, including Student Counseling Services, Office of Student Assistance, and others.
  2. Make a Statement: Whether in class or the community, acknowledge the stress of our current climate and crisis, normalize that its normal to struggle in times of crisis, and promote engagement and positive messaging around mental health support. We find that the best predictor of help-seeking is social norms and attitudes. By cultivating healthy discussions, you can help foster a culture of wellness and help-seeking.
  3. Set a routine:Check in with yourself regarding your needs at this time. How am I doing? Am I finding a balance? What are my needs regarding sleep, eating, and exercise? Create a workable schedule to achieve a balance and commit to it.
  4. Connect:  Find a connection in some form in your community. Establishing a connection and belongingness within a community is an essential predictor of success and wellness, especially on a college campus. Recognize that the community you find might be similar or different from what you expect. Be open to new ways of connecting with others.
  5. Set Limits: Set limits on exposure to news, social media, and other outlets. Stay informed with current issues but keep it within limits. Identify what is in your control about the current situation and let others go.
  6. Be Kind to Yourself: Identify ways to nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Engage in meaningful and values-based activities to refuel yourself. Accept your thoughts and feelings, and embrace your struggles with kindness and self-compassion.
  7. Promote Efficacy: Identify ways that you can accomplish tasks or meaningful goals in your daily lives. Personal and community based initiatives are powerful.


Christopher Hanes, Director

Student Counseling Services

Iowa State University | Student Health and Wellness

Webinar, Supporting student mental health and well-being

Oct. 1 (1:10-2 p.m., view via Webex)

Join this interactive webinar as we discuss the increasing complexity of student mental health and well-being needs on college campuses. We will explore current data and student needs. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect upon challenges they’ve experienced in their setting. Finally, we will share both strategic and operational tactics that we all can use.

Facilitated by Erin Baldwin, Assistant Vice President, Student Health and Wellness, and Chris Hanes, Director, Student Counseling Services

Erin Baldwin
Christopher Hanes

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Promoting Healthy Community, Ideas from Student Counseling ­Director Christopher Hanes (September 24, 2020 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September  24, 2020 (PDF).