During her time in Greek life at Albion College, St. Johns, Michigan, senior Maddy Slamka couldn’t help but notice something missing from their support systems.
“In a lot of sororities, fraternities and other organizations on campus, people were struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression,” Slamka said.
This led the member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority to reach out to some of her own friends and peers to see what their experiences were.
What resulted was a blueprint for a Greek life initiative involving mental health advocates from each sorority and fraternity on campus who would be trained on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.
The idea itself was spurred by both Slamka and Chaz Hopkins, a 2018 Albion College graduate and member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
The idea was eventually presented to director of Counseling Services Frank Keleman and has been gaining constantly developing since.
Albion is not the only college campus that has seen a push for mental health awareness within its Greek life. Slamka indicated that a great deal of inspiration for her work came from the University of Michigan’s PULSE program, an organization that trains mental health advocates across residence halls and Greek houses.
The process of becoming one of these advocates involves an initial training process through Counseling Services.
“We actually just have everyone gather up in one room and go through an interactive type of process,” said Slamka. “Everyone there is educated on the signs and symptoms, along with resources that are available on campus and in the area.”
Although the program is still in its early stages, Slamka believes that the initial responses from Greek life members have been quite positive. She even indicated that sorority and fraternity houses have a number of members interested in taking on the advocate role.
Although her time at Albion College is almost complete, Slamka hopes to see her work manifest years after she graduates.
“I’m hoping people will continue to see the position as a priority within each house,” she said. “I also hope that the advocates will continue to stay engaged and looking for ways to keep their houses healthy.”