Taking the time to hear what people are saying can ease stress and fight depression during finals week
by Dominique Dajer
At a busy commuter school like CCNY where students juggle school, family, and jobs, students don’t always listen to others as much as they should. During finals week, which coincides with the holidays, many students may especially find themselves stressed or alone. One of the most important ways students can help themselves is to take time and ask a friend how they are REALLY doing.
MCA’s Advertising and Public Relations Workshop group, TranquiliT, found that one of CCNY students’ biggest stressors is time management, even as students say they are supportive of their peers if they need help. In a digital age, it can become increasingly difficult to have personal conversations if you’re used to holding feelings in or venting through social media. But small changes like talking to a friend or just lending an ear to a friend or classmate can be helpful.
CCNY students think they’re better listeners than they actually are. 98% of students answered said they are supportive of a friend with mental health issues, but 50% still concealed a mental health challenge.
Claresa Marsileus, a freshman at CCNY, says that she often finds herself asking people about how they’re doing, but feels others don’t reciprocate. “I can tell they don’t really care,” she says, “so I just say I’m fine and we carry on until we see each other again.”
CUNY students are not alone. This is a New York issue. In fact, several organizations are launching initiatives to address mental health and how listening can help.
New York’s First Lady Chirlane McCray partnered with New York City’s Health Department to develop Roadmap to Mental Health which is planning to unify mental health services through different communities. McCray says mental health is wrongly stigmatized. She is focused on raising awareness on maternal depression and emphasizes that the discussions people share have a lot of power, according to her blog, flo.nyc.
Even WNYC, New York’s public radio station chimed in on the issue. Listen Up! launched a five-day listening bootcamp in November to help people listen better. Lawyer and mediator, Ken Feinberg said, “Truly empathetic listening, is not just about saying the right thing, but knowing when the other person just needs to be heard.”
So, what can we, as CCNY students do to get past the superficial conversations and really be good listeners? Here are a few tips to help.