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Brian Hogan's journey to becoming a teaching professor in the College of Arts and Science's chemistry department has been anything but a straight path. But through perseverance and an ask for help, the Tar Heel found a way to quiet the doubt that lingered in the back of his mind.

By John Roberts, University Communications, Monday, September 26th, 2022 | Original Post

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When Brian Hogan started his undergraduate studies, he thought he had his future as a scientist all figured out.

That feeling lasted until his first chemistry test, which he promptly failed.

“I felt like, ‘Well, I guess I’m done. I guess I’m not going to be a science major,” Hogan said. “Mentally, I started to doubt myself. I started to doubt that I could even do it.”

That doubt never really went away for Hogan. Even as he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and landed a position as a teaching professor in the College of Arts and Science’s chemistry department, those thoughts of doubt and imposter syndrome lingered. It wasn’t until he asked for help and began working with mental health professionals that he turned a corner.

“It’s hard to change the way that you view the world when you’ve spent your whole adult life being really negative,” he said. “Once I changed the way that I looked at serving other people and being a teacher and being a mentor, I began to feel, ‘This is what makes me feel better about myself. It fills my soul.’ I’m lucky that I get to go to college every day for the rest of my life and be around really wonderful students as a college professor, that I can play some small part in their lives, and I get to do it over and over and over again, which is really rewarding.”

He now aims to help his students find joy in their lives.

“It’s OK if you don’t feel like your life is going in this perfect straight line,” Hogan said. “I’ve gotten to a point in my life where everything is going pretty well, but it wasn’t always easy and my path to get there was really circuitous, but I did persevere. I was able to get through it, and maybe they will find a little bit of solace in this story. I’ve been there. It turned out OK.”

The LGBTQ Center is partnering with other on-campus and community organizations to host Pride Week at Carolina 2022 from April 4 through 8. This year's Pride Week theme is "Imagine Liberation."

Pride Week at Carolina is a partnership among the LGBTQ Center, student organizations, University departments, and community organizations to host events that center themes of history, inclusion, intersectionality, expression, and advocacy within Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities.

Pride Week 2022 events include:

Letters of Liberation

“To counter the narratives that there is something wrong with us, create handmade messages for LGBTQ youth under 18 about the resilience of the past and the hope for the future.” Learn more.
When: all week

Photovoice: What Does Liberation Look Like at UNC?

Members of the Carolina community can take and upload photos about what liberation on campus looks like to them. Learn more.
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 5-6 at The Pit; 5 p.m. April 7 at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

Tabling at the Pit

Talk to the people at the LGBTQ Center in The Pit, where they will also be writing Letters of Liberation to send to LGBTQ youth. Learn more.
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 5 and April 6

A Conversation with adrienne maree brown on Afrofuturism

Hosted by student Mariel Eaves, this hybrid talk with writer adrienne maree brown covers how to use the philosophy of Black imagination and liberation as a path to the future. Followed by a reception with vegan and gluten-free food. Learn more.
When: 5-8 p.m. April 7 at the Student Union

Event details can be found at our Carolina Pride Week events page! Help spread the word! Event flyers and social media graphics are posted at our Pride Week media web page.

Photo by Yoav Hornung on Unsplash

COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available on campus thru the Campus Health Pharmacy and Student Stores Pharmacy. Members of the campus community are highly encouraged to receive their booster to help keep themselves and the community safer during COVID-19.

Who Should Get a Booster?

  • Individuals who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine over 2 months ago
  • Individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine who are 5 months past their second dosage and are age 12 and up.
  • Individuals who received their Moderna vaccine who are 5 months past their second dosage and are age 18 and up.

Individuals may receive any booster they wish as mix and match vaccines are allowed. This does not apply to individuals who are between the ages of 12 and 17. These individuals should receive a Pfizer booster.

When and Where?

Visits are available without an appointment at both the Campus Health Pharmacy and the Student Stores Pharmacy Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm.

Boosters come at no pocket cost. Please bring your insurance and vaccination cards. These are the only forms of documentation needed to receive your vaccination.

During a pandemic, with the winter weather disruptions of late, and the near-constant tensions in current events, none of us can be as productive as usual. The strategies below can help us be efficiently productive to allow time for self-care. 

Campus Survival is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Time is our most limited resource. If you're feeling exhausted but still don't have time for all of your work, make a change. Pause, evaluate how you're spending your time, and find solutions to help you work less but accomplish more. It's possible.

Self-Care is a Responsibility

Hobbies, physical movement, and rest are critical to your success as a student or employee. Self-care helps your mind and body be ready to focus, write, memorize and perform. Sleeping enough, seeing friends, cooking food, playing sports, finding fun - these activities genuinely help you produce better work. Learn which leisure activities are helpful and which only provide the illusion of rest and recovery. If you ever feel pressured to skip self-care, remember self-care is a responsibility, not an indulgence.

Watch for the Short-Term Task Trap

Life requires balancing three things: short-term tasks, long-term tasks, and self-care. Short-term tasks (due tomorrow, due this week, waiting for a reply) have the most visible deadlines, which push us to prioritize them. Alternatively, long-term tasks (writing a thesis, finishing a paper) and self-care activities (sleep, rest, play, movement) are much more important, but there is little consequence to letting time slip by without working on them. This makes it easy to start skipping on self-care or long-term projects. Fight to keep short-term tasks from taking over. Accountability helps.

  • Create your own deadlines and rules, like "3 pages by X date" or  "Go for a jog M/W/F" or "Meal with a friend 2x per week."
  • Reserve times exclusively for long-term tasks or self-care. Never let short-term tasks violate those protected hours, even if that means leaving someone waiting.

There are More Things Worth Doing Than Anyone Can Do

When deciding whether or not to take on a new task or project, ask yourself "Is this more worth doing than the thing I will have to give up to do it?" Anything you add means less time for something else. Consider what you'll be giving up and whether losing that will be worth it. You might wait 24 hours before saying "yes" to something new to give time for reflection.

Campus Culture Pushes Us in Many Directions

University culture pushes us to ask a lot of ourselves - as a student, employee, friend, intellectual, agent of change, and more. No one can give outstanding effort in so many directions at once. Focus on the aspects of life that are most important for you personally to give your all. 

Reach out for help if you need it.

There are many support structures at UNC-Chapel Hill to help you balance campus demands.

For students: advisors, learning center coacheswellbeing coachesCAPS, and more.

For employees: Work-Life Balance, Center for Faculty Excellence

Reach out for help if you need it. 

Adapted from Healthy Work Habits by Ada Palmer

On September 14, from 12pm-3pm, the Heels Care Network held a Mental Health Colloquium and subsequently will be hosting a Mental Health Seminar Series. Information about these events are below.

An afternoon of expert talks and engaging breakout sessions built upon the discussion and suggestions from last semester's Mental Health Summit and kicked off our fall semester series of mental health seminars. This colloquium moved us from theory to practice, centering discussion on three topics:

  • Practicing Cultural Awareness and Humility: presented by Leah Cox, Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
  • Trauma-Informed Engagement in the Community: presented by April Parker, Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work
  • Mental Health and Identity: featured breakout sessions focused on Mental Health in Latinx Communities, Asian Communities, Black Communities, American Indian Communities and LGBTIQ Communities

Breakout Sessions included:

  • Mental Health in Latinx Communities – Facilitated by Theresa Flores, MSW, LCSW  
  • Mental Health in Asian Communities – Facilitated by Misha Mohan, Psy.D. 
  • Mental Health in Black Communities – Facilitated by Sophia Davis, MSW, LCSW and Faye Hobgood, MSW, LCSW 
  • Mental Health in American Indian Communities – Facilitated by Alicia Freeman, LCMHC, LCAS-A 
  • Mental Health in LGTBIQ Communities – Facilitated by Terri Phoenix, PhD 
  • Mental Health and People with Disabilities – Facilitated by Simon Bloor, MAEd, PGDip, PGCert

Heels Care Mental Health Seminar Series

It's Ok to Pause

It’s Ok to Pause - Facilitated by Crystal Schiller, PhD 

The research behind and practice of mindful pauses

Tuesday, October 11th, noon – 1:30 pm  

Register for the Zoom link

Understanding Emotions and How to Talk About Them

Understanding Emotions and How to Talk About Them - Facilitated by Rachel Rifkin, LCSW

The science of feelings and strategies to explore and communicate about them.

Wednesday, November 16th, noon – 1:30 pm  

Register for the Zoom link

This week includes wellness day and a spring holiday – meaning there’s a bit more time to think about what you need.

Self-care – those activities we do to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health – reduces stress, improves emotional health, and provides a better quality of life.

What counts as self-care is different for all of us. For some, going camping would be an ideal way to spend this long weekend; for others, camping would only add stress. So we recommend starting with some reflection questions. Pick one or a few of these questions, and give yourself permission to consider your answers without any judgment or pressure. The goal is to learn about yourself and the ways to take care of yourself.

How do you recharge?

What did you love to do as a child?

How do you remind yourself that you’re enough?

What’s a choice that you can make this week to prioritize your needs?

Wellness day is a part of the academic calendar this year (and thank goodness!). Use it to take a nap, paint a picture, or host a picnic – just be sure you do something fun that prioritizes your needs.

Editor's Note: This news was shared by Student Wellness

Recent studies indicate that approximately 1 in 8 college students meet criteria for substance use disorders. Fortunately, collegiate recovery groups are gaining traction as students re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol and other drugs. Students in recovery are committed to awareness, de-stigmatization, and alternative programming efforts across campuses nationwide—and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Recovery is no different. Carolina Recovery is comprised of a Student Wellness staff-led Collegiate Recovery Program and corresponding student group, the Carolina Recovery Community. 

September 1 marks the beginning of National Recovery Month, which celebrates and honors those in recovery and healing from substance use and other mental health concerns—like the efforts to celebrate recoveries from other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

This month, Carolina Recovery will celebrate with Puppies in the Pit on Wednesday, Sept. 7. They are also planning an event for the Carolina campus later in September. Details about this event will be available soon via Student Wellness and Healthy Heels social media. 

If you have questions or would like more information about Carolina Recovery, please contact the Collegiate Recovery Programs Coordinator, Victoria Cooper, at recovery@unc.edu or vlcooper@unc.edu.

trigger is a stimulus that elicits a reaction. In the context of mental illness, "trigger" is often used to mean something that brings on or worsens symptoms. This often happens to people with a history of trauma or who are recovering from mental illness, self-harm, addiction, and/or eating disorders. When someone has a history of any of these issues, being unexpectedly exposed to imagery or content that deals with that history can cause harm or relapse.

Many different stimuli can be possible triggers, and they are often strongly influenced by past experiences.

Understanding, identifying, and working to prevent triggers can be empowering and effective, especially in comparison to supporting someone after they have been triggered.

Understanding Triggers

Triggers vary widely from person to person. Many different stimuli can be possible triggers, and they are often strongly influenced by past experiences.

  • External triggers: Think senses - sounds, sights, smells, textures that elicit responses based on past experiences. Example: Smelling the cologne that was worn by a loved one who has passed away can trigger grief.
  • Internal triggers: Strong feelings that arise based on past experiences. Example: Making a doctor's appointment after a negative medical experience can trigger fear.
  • Trauma triggers: Strong feelings that arise based on past trauma. Example: The sound of firecrackers can be trauma triggers for veterans of war.
  • Symptom triggers: A physical change can trigger larger mental health issues. Example: A lack of sleep could trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder.

For some, a trigger might cause a physical response - heavy breathing, sweating, crying. For some, a trigger can elicit an emotional reaction, like thinking “I am being attacked.” For some, a trigger can cause harm or a relapse.

After experiencing a trigger, a person may have big, negative feelings - overwhelm, powerlessness, fear, etc. These feelings can be detrimental to mental health and are often a challenge to effectively address after they arise.

The behavior that emerges after a trigger can range from relatively minimal (crying) to serious (acts of violence). Someone exposed to a trigger may experience impaired judgment or awareness.

Ways to Help Someone Who Gets Triggered

  • Be curious. Learn to engage in difficult situations with a focus on maintaining a positive relationship. Learn what is triggering for those around you, and try to avoid causing pain. Remember to respect an individual's right to not share, or share on their own timeline.
  • Be empathetic and listen without judgment. Be a safe space for those around you. Avoid taking another's behavior personally nor making negative judgments about someone's feelings and behavior.
  • Maintain good boundaries. Boundaries help everyone be clear on expectations, which adds security and predictability.
  • Help with coping. Ask about strategies that work for the person to relax and take care of themselves. Encourage more time spent on self-care activities.
  • Use trigger warnings if you develop content. Providing a warning before potentially triggering content provides time for people to prepare or if needed, to opt-out of challenging or emotional materials.

Coping Strategies for Those Who Get Triggered

There are many possible coping strategies you can try, but all should focus on reducing the impact of the trigger and the strength of emotional reactions.

Trial and error can help each person determine what works best for them. Remember that different coping strategies may work for different triggers and emotions.

  • Learn to identify: Consider reactions to past triggers; who or what was involved, where, when, and why it took place. Observe patterns and obvious signs of risk to prevent a similar situation.
  • Make a plan to address: Create a plan to address triggers and emotional reactions. You may want to talk to loved ones or your treatment team to let them know how they can best help you when you are triggered. Be sure to carefully address triggers that occur repeatedly, because each time they do, the emotional reaction may be greater.
  • Try problem-focused coping: Confront your stressor directly or try to find a solution to the stressor. For example, commuting past a hospital may cause you to remember traumas from the hospital. You could find another commuting route.
  • Try emotion-focused coping: When you cannot eliminate or avoid a trigger, focus on regulating your reaction to a stressor which may help reduce the stressor’s impact. For example, meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Communicate if someone is triggering you: A person triggering another person is often unintentional. Talk to them about the impact of their actions to clear up any misunderstandings and consider possible solutions. Have an open, calm, and understanding dialog. Be willing to work with them. If the person who is triggering you refuses to act sensitively, it may be best to set clear boundaries.
  • Find the right therapy: Specific types of therapy have been shown effective in addressing triggers such as exposure therapy and EMDR therapy. Support groups can also help the person feel less alone.
  • Reality-check your thoughts: To minimize the escalation of thoughts and feelings, it may be helpful to “reality check” thoughts to assess their reasonableness. A few ways to do this include:
    1. Check facts: What is undisputably true and do the facts support your interpretation.
    2. Consider cognitive distortions: Identify faulty or inaccurate thinking, perceptions or beliefs.
    3. Reframe: Reshape automatic negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
    4. Proportionality: Ask yourself, is the reaction disproportionate to the trigger?
  • Look for trigger warnings: Triggers warnings can help alert you to triggering material, especially materials related to suicide or violence. Sometimes, an article will provide a trigger warning at the start of the piece. You can even ask others to provide you with a trigger warning about materials they share.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritizing your mental health can help build resilience against potential triggers. You can start by talking to someone, such as a loved one, friend, or therapist. You may also want to practice mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, or journaling.

While it can be difficult to control triggers, those who experience them can learn from past experiences, apply what they learn, and limit the risk of being re-triggered. Avoid only focusing on what happens after a trigger; also focus on what can be done beforehand.

Each time a person is triggered is a learning opportunity that can help manage reactions in the future. If a person can’t control the trigger fully, they may be able to limit the emotional reaction to it before it becomes problematic and harder to address. They might even be able to prevent the trigger by preparing for it. There is always have something you can control. Anything that offers a little control over mental illness can help keep us well.

Adapted from NAMI Blog by Katherine Ponte

By Alan Hunt | April 10, 2022 | 2:19pm EDT

UNC students can connect with and receive support from their fellow students through "Listen, Support, Navigate", or LSN for short.

The program is a part of UNC's recently launched Heels Care Network, a collection of support resources for students. LSN is a live chat feature that allows students to connect with peers anonymously.

It features undergraduate, graduate and professional student volunteers who can talk with students and help guide them toward other resources.

Samantha Luu, associate director for the UNC-CH Peer Support Core, said she understands that it can be hard to find students to ask for help and find the right mental health resources on campus.

“As a student, you're not necessarily seeking a staff member, you're seeking someone who's also in classes with you and might also live in a dorm and have similar experiences,” Luu said. 

In a typical interaction, a support-seeker will initiate the conversation through the chat portal on the website, then a listener will introduce themselves and interact with the student according to their needs, which Luu said in an email.

Peer listeners must go through about 20 hours of initial training along with ongoing supervision and training, as well as check-ins with staff, according to Luu. Skills that are trained include empathetic communication and active listening.

“During initial training, we encourage LSNers to self-reflect on their own experiences and identities and how that may influence a supportive interaction in different ways,” Luu said in an email.

Luu said that the training curriculum includes lessons about peer support skills and mental first aid, as well as a requirement training related to a "high-priority" group that the listener does not identify with — such as the Safe Zone trainings through the LGBTQ Center, or Green Zone training to learn more about the experiences of military-affiliated students.

One of the program's goals is to provide support for members of high-priority communities, such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and first generation college students, Luu said. 

“We wanted to build this culture of care and compassion at UNC-Chapel Hill where everyone feels supported and empowered to ask for help,” Patrick Tang, program manager of Peers for Progress, said. “And COVID gave us kind of a bigger reason to work on campus.”

Listeners are available to chat from Sunday to Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. LSNers work in shifts one hour at a time, Luu said in an email, and they are trained to offer follow-up care to someone after their initial conversation. 

Although the service is hosted on the Heels Care Network website, Tang said students may keep in touch with their peer listener through email or text.

Students who use LSN can request to speak with specific peer listeners again by following up with them after their chat or emailing the organization directly, Luu said in an email. 

Peer listener Maggi Mazza said she enjoys working with LSN because it allows her to make mental health support more accessible to others.

"I really feel like it's important to make sure that everybody knows that they're somewhere that their perspective will be cherished, and that they will be listened to," Mazza said.

Students interested in volunteering to become peer listeners through the program will soon be able to apply through its website, Luu said. 

The program is financially supported through a grant from the UNC System and is administratively supported by the UNC-CH Peer Support Core, several campus service collaborators and other student-led resources.

“I think that mental health has been on the back burner for a really long time, and I feel like it's time to push it forward,” Mazza said. "And to really emphasize that, if we're going to create a community that is successful and sustainable, that mental health has to be the primary discussion.”

Students interested in using LSN can access it through its webpage. For those needing emergency, urgent and crisis care, the program encourages using other campus resources, such as the UNC Counseling and Psychological Services 24/7 line: 919-966-3658.

university@dailytarheel.com

News Post originally published on https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2022/04/university-lsn-mental-health.

Better understand the theory and practice of mindful pauses, how to prioritize them in your own life, and how to inspire them in the community around you.

It’s Ok to Pause! Living nonstop is impossible; we all need rest to replenish and recharge. A pause can help us reevaluate priorities and adjust goals, notice the details of life and enjoy them, and reconnect with our inspiration and feelings.

On October 11, from 12pm - 1:30pm, we gathered to better understand the theory and practice of mindful pauses, how to prioritize them in our own life, and how to inspire them in the community around us.

The session was facilitated by Crystal Schiller, Ph.D., a Psychologist and Researcher in the UNC School of Medicine. She serves as the Director of the UNC SOM Psychology Internship Program, Associate Director of Behavior Therapy and Reproductive Science at UNC Center for Womens’ Mood Disorders, and Associate Director of Program Development at UNC Integrated Wellbeing Program. She is a therapist and researcher focusing on the neurobiology of depression and behavioral strategies to cultivate wellbeing and fulfillment. 

Want to help prevent sexual violence and harassment at UNC? 

Join the 2022-2023 class of VPAS Peer Educators and Ambassadors!

VPAS Peer Educators will help facilitate trainings on a variety of topics, including:

  • Bystander Intervention
  • Providing trauma-informed support for violence survivors
  • Identifying and preventing sexual violence on Franklin St

Peer Educators will receive extensive training on violence prevention and facilitation skills and will be compensated for their work. 

VPAS Ambassadors will assist with anti-violence outreach and education on campus. Ambassadors may:

  • Assist with tabling events around campus
  • Create and promote social media posts
  • Promote training opportunities on campus and Franklin St

Ambassadors will receive training on violence prevention and will serve on a volunteer basis. 

Interested in applying? 

Send us an email at violenceprevention@unc.edu

Put your preferred position in the subject line (Peer Educator or Ambassador) and we will send you an application!

Applications must be submitted by midnight on Thursday, March 31st.

Peer Educators will be asked to participate in a short interview. Ambassadors will be accepted on the basis of their application alone.

Among a plethora of resources on Gilling's Virtual Engagement Page, You can find a list of past Webinar recordings from "Wellness Wednesday." They include Topics such as Identity and Self Worth, Burnout and the Stress Cycle, and Managing your Attention along with others. All you have to do is visit their page, and scroll to the button that says "webinar recordings" to be taken to the list of Wellness Wednesday recordings.

Peer Chat
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