Month: October 2022

The Well-being of Video Games

What is your favorite thing to do at the end of the day? For some, it is jumping into the never-ending world of gaming. There are games for every genre and every level of play. Coordinator, Hannah Bershing, shares with us a game that she has recently found interest in. After a long day, it’s something she looks forward to – as she can escape reality for a bit and rewind.

“After recently being introduced to the game Tunic, I have learned how relaxing video games can be. Coming home at the end of the day and spending some time exploring the fantasy world as a little fox, is what I look forward to, as I’m sure others can relate to it after a long day. 

Some genres of games provide social features that enable you to connect with your friends or others online. This can open the door to finding others with your shared interests! The Oxford Internet Institute of Research found that those who could connect with others through games like Animal Crossing, were reportedly happier the longer they were online and playing with others.

An important aspect of well-being is finding those to connect with and creating relationships with people – which can be easier said than done. However, gaming could bridge the struggle of helping people find others who are also interested in the same things. Online gaming also has other properties that are beneficial to well-being, such as the ability to use creative skills and problem-solving strategies to enhance experiences. For example, in Tunic, I can customize my fox’s avatar and choose my path of play in the world provided. I can help rescue fairies or explore every other unique element of the world. This alternate universe allowed me to still keep my mind active, while also choosing my path of play and creativity. 

During the spring  2022 semester, I observed the E-sports team for a class paper I was writing and one of the most impactful things I observed was the connection between members. The game they played brought them together and allowed them to work with others to fight battles and play against other teams. Although video games are often looked down upon for various reasons, there is another side that people often overlook that covers creativity, self-expression, healthy competition, and connection. So, whether you are hanging out with a fortnight realm with friends, completing missions in Skyrim, or playing Animal Crossing after a long day of classes, it’s important to consider whether or not you are playing as a form of self-care. Then, depending on what you observe, lean into your game and the time you set aside to relax and unwind.”

We have developed a short list of video games that are well-known for their themes related to mental health and well-being. Although we have not played all of them ourselves, each game comes highly reviewed and we hope that it will offer you some enjoyment!

Let’s Unplug

Social media. It seems, at first, like such a helpful way to foster connection and community with friends, family, and people all over the world. Pictures and messages, ideas and encouragement all at our fingertips. 

So why is it that the hours spent scrolling can leave us feeling… empty? 

Research now suggests that instead of fostering connection, social media stirs up feelings of loneliness, envy, and an addiction to constant feedback.[1] This impulsive consumption of social media makes it harder to step away and further separates us from friends, family, and chances to engage socially in our everyday lives. While isolation can contribute to loneliness, someone can be surrounded by people and still perceive a gap between desire for attachments and their ability to experience connection.[2] When that separation occurs, it can create feelings of disconnection or a lack of authenticity in relationships.  

Even passive use of social media correlates with social comparison and self doubt [1] to keep us feeling lonely or believing the lie that we are not enough. While failed attempts to genuinely develop connections online is an involuntary separation for people, it can create a state of mind that makes developing relationships more challenging, despite the underlying desire to have human contact. [3]  

There is hope! 

A study out of Penn University demonstrated that using less social media than normal leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. [4] This knowledge of the relationship between social media and mental health can help empower us to take control of our online consumption and actively choose to unplug. While you may not identify personally as someone who is struggling with these feelings, you can still make the choice to unplug and help protect and promote your overall well-being.

So, how do we ‘Unplug?’

Step One: Awareness

Start by tracking your mood before and after you spend time on social media. While pen and paper always works, apps such as Mood Panda or Daylio are easy ways to quickly track your emotions. Repeatedly noting your feelings around Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or SnapChat will show you patterns over time of how engaging in social media impacts your mood. 

Step Two: Goal Setting

Figure out how much time you are spending on social media. Most phones take out the guesswork and provide a break-down of time spent by categories and apps. Evidence supports working to reduce your use by about 30% of what you are currently spending. Set a goal to decrease your time all at once, or decrease at intervals such as 10% a week. Set phone limits to help hold yourself accountable.  

Step Three: Stay The Course

Once you have decided to unplug and set a goal, you may need to distract or delay your social media urges. When possible, plan ahead and schedule activities you enjoy during the larger periods of time you typically spend on your social apps. Starting a new hobby or joining a club might be helpful in productively filling unstructured free time. 

Quick activities that distract you from reaching for your phone in the moment, can be relatively simple to complete:

  • Count backwards from a large number
  • Name all the colors you see in the room
  • Find an object near you and observe it in detail, paying close attention to the color variations, the patterns, the subtle details, and the way it feels
  • Play with a fidget device
  • Practice a 3 minute body scan mindfulness exercise 
  • Color, doodle, or draw 
  • Complete a wordsearch or a crossword puzzle
  • Call a family member or friend just to say “Hi!”

Step Four: Celebrate Your Outcomes 

Review the changes and patterns from the mood tracking you began in the first step. How have your emotions shifted since you first made a commitment to unplug? Take a moment to notice the ways your day-to-day has been positively impacted and write down a list of the benefits you can see and feel.    

Your mental health matters.

The correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness and depression is real, but you can make the decision to unplug. Seeking a connection with friends and groups all around campus will continue to help improve the quality of your relationships and to fill your time with creative and purposeful activities. Explore the organizations and events here at MTU and plug-in to something new!

#ItsOkToNotBeOk #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness #Unplug

[1] Konnikova, M. (September 10, 2013). How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy. The New Yorker.

[2] Psychology Today. (2022). Loneliness. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from,a%20deep%20and%20pervasive%20loneliness.

[3] Cherry, K. (May 24, 2022). Loneliness: Causes and Health Consequences. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from[4] Hunt, M.G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., Young, J. (December 2018). No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 37 No. 10.

Green Bandana Project at MTU

The Bandana Project was founded on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in 2016. The Green Bandana project is a simple – yet innovative suicide prevention campaign and mental health awareness movement that uses backpacks and bandanas to support peers.

What exactly is the Green Bandana Project?

  • Spreading awareness and resources for those with mental health illnesses
  • Ending the stigma around mental health
  • Being an advocate and reinforcing solidarity #letstalkaboutit

Members tie a green bandana to their backpacks to signify they are in possession of region-specific and national resources (shown below). Members pledge to support the mental health of individuals and reject the stigma associated with mental illness. The Green Bandana project normalizes and de-stigmatizes getting help while providing invaluable, unspoken solidarity with those struggling.

The Pledge:

  • I will listen if you need someone to talk to.
  • I will talk to someone if I need to be listened to.
  • I will help you find someone to talk to if you need more support.
  • I will find someone to talk to if I need more support.
  • I will be accepting. I will be honest.
  • I will see a person in need of support, and not just their challenges.
  • With this pledge, I am declaring support for those dealing with depression and/or anxiety. You can talk to me. I want to help. You are way too important to feel alone today.

You are responsible for:

  • Handing out resource cards and explaining what they are
  • Wearing the bandana

You are NOT responsible for:

  • Providing mental health counseling
  • Putting yourself or others at risk in a mental health situation

Where to get a Green Bandana:

  • HuskyFan (Fisher Hall – across from 136)
  • The 3rd floor of the Admin (The Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being)
  • Admin 234

Suicide Awareness

Suicide does not discriminate – people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. [1] Suicidal behavior is complex, but knowing the warning signs can help save lives. 

The most recent ACHA Survey (Fall 2019) found that 33% of Michigan Tech Students had experienced thoughts of suicide. These ideas are more common than many people realize. Thankfully, most people do not act on these thoughts and even fewer die by suicide. Persistent or intense suicidal thoughts are not a typical response to stress, and warning signs should be taken seriously. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the following signs [2] – particularly if this behavior is new or increasing – please get help as soon as possible

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themself
  • Looking for a way to kill themself
  • Feelings of hopelessness or having no reason to live
  • Feelings of unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Talking about feeling trapped, or believing there are no solutions
  • Believing you are a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Engaging in reckless behavior
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themself from friends and family
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

How to Help Myself

You are not alone. Getting immediate help from your support network before behavior escalates can help you decrease or overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings. [3] If you think you may need to talk to someone, but are unsure where to begin:

WHO: Friends, trusted professors and staff, mental health professionals, your doctor, or a spiritual leader

WHERE: Professional, confidential help is available. Call My SSP at 877-376-7896, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or text ‘HELLO’ to 741741 for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Local resources include the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being at 906-487-2538 or Dial Help at 800-562-7622.

HOW: Be direct. Say, “I am having suicidal thoughts” or “I’m thinking about suicide and I want to talk but I don’t know how.”

In addition to working with a professional to identify the source of suicidal thoughts, restrict your means of self-harm, and make a safety plan [4]; you can work to reduce stress and anxiety in the following ways: 

Take Care of the Basics

  • Sleep 7-8 hours a night and establish a bedtime and wake-up routine
  • Eat nutritious, well-balanced meals regularly throughout the day
  • Move your body without judgment in a way that feels good for 30 minutes a day
  • Schedule an activity during the day that brings you joy – listening to music, time with a good book, a walk with a friend, or watching a funny movie

Seek Connection

  • Journal your thoughts and feelings; if you’re having trouble wondering how or where to begin, maybe try using pre-made prompts and sticking to a routine. ‘Daily Haloha’ is a self reflection app available on iPhones and androids that can help you get started
  • Practice self-compassion by being gentle and kind to yourself. Try speaking to yourself in the way you would speak to a friend or loved one
  • Connect with your body through yoga, dance, gardening, painting, or another hobby that allows you to express yourself in a new or different way
  • Schedule regular time with a friend

Enhance Coping Skills 

  • Learn to ground yourself; Stand barefoot, outside, and focus on the sensations that come up
  • Practice mindfulness through activities that engage your senses; Focus on 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste
  • Learn to take calming breaths such as 4-7-8 Breathing; Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold the breath for the count of 7, exhale completely through your mouth for the count of 8. Repeat 3 times
  • Begin a meditation practice; Apps such as HeadSpace, Calm, Insight Timer, Aura, and Simple Habit are good places to start

How to Help a Friend

QPR: Question – Persuade – Refer

If you think a friend might be thinking about or planning suicide, calmly and directly express your concern: “I have noticed you are going through a hard time, and I am concerned that you may be considering suicide. Have you ever had, or are you currently having suicidal thoughts?”

  • Be supportive, not judgmental. Listen to what they share with you and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Thank them for trusting you and validate their choice to share.
  • Do not promise to keep it a secret. If they confirm suicidal thoughts, let them know for their own safety, you must share that information with necessary individuals so they can get help. 

Persuade them to seek help, and offer to help them reach out. Encourage them to call My SSP at 877-376-7896, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or Dial Help at 800-562-7622 for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you are concerned about someone’s immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or Public Safety at 906-487-2216.

Michigan Tech is committed to promoting a supportive and respectful environment. If you are unsure about who to talk with but you want to share a concern, please utilize the Report a Concern Form.

The resources provided in this post are just the beginning of what is available online and in the community. If you are interested, QPR Training is a way for non-mental health professionals to learn the tools and resources to help someone in mental health distress. MTU provides this training at no cost to students, and it can be completed in less than an hour. 

Access QPR Training Link

Use Access Code: MTU 

If you feel safe doing so, remove dangerous items that your friend might use to attempt suicide. [4] After the first conversation, continue to stay connected with your friend. Let them know you are going to follow up and talk with them about this again, so you can help them begin to understand they are not alone. Provide support for your friend while respecting your own limits and well-being. When in doubt, reach out for help. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, please contact a mental health professional for support.

#ItsOkToNotBeOk #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness #SuicideAwareness


[1] National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Suicide Prevention. Retrieved on June 14, 2022 from,   

[2] Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.) We Can All Prevent Suicide. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from, 

[3] The Jed Foundation. (n.d.) Tips for Managing Suicidal Thoughts. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from,

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff. (May 21, 2022). Are You Thinking About Suicide? How to Stay Safe and Find Treatment. Retrieved on June 16, 2022 from, 

This October is MTU’s Mental Health Awareness Month

This month, the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being is turning a spotlight on our student’s’ ability to adopt healthy behaviors that promote and protect their mental health. October 2nd – October 8th, 2022, is ‘National Mental Illness Awareness Week’ in the U.S., and on Monday, October 10th, the World Health Organization’s global initiative ‘World Mental Health Day’ is observed. This global attention to mental health provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness and mobilize efforts on campus in support of our students’ mental well-being.   

One-in-five adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness each year. Mental health is an essential component to our overall well-being. When we feel mentally well, we can work productively, enjoy free time, and contribute actively to our communities. Fortunately, promoting and protecting our mental health is often even more simple than we realize.  

Connect Well: Find your people 

  • Stay connected… schedule regular time with family and friends who help you to cope in positive ways
  • Focus on developing quality relationships over quantity, invest in a few close friends with similar attitudes, interests and values
  • Be friendly to strangers – small conversational moments (with a cashier or a neighbor) can often make a difference in building a sense of connection

Recharge Well: Make time to rest and reflect

  • Practice gratitude… be specific -and write down!- the things you are grateful for each day
  • Incorporate relaxation exercises -meditation or calming breaths- into your daily routines. Apps such as Calm, HeadSpace, or The Mindfulness App are a good place to start
  • Schedule an activity during the day that brings you pleasure – listening to music, time with a good book, a walk with a friend, or watching a funny movie

Live Well: Learn and shape the life you want

  • Learn to identify and challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts
  • In moments of stress, try guided imagery, such as this guided visualization to calm your mind
  • Keep a journal to track your thoughts and feelings

Play Well: Care for your physical self

  • Stick to the basics
    • Keep a morning and nighttime routine; try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
    • Drink water and eat well-balanced meals at regular intervals 
    • Move your body in ways that you like (walk, dance, yoga, or ski!) every day
    • Avoid drinking excess caffeine

To elevate the commitment we have to mental health and to strengthen the tools and resources available to students, we are inviting you to connect, recharge, live, and play with us this month through various workshops and events happening all around campus.

Take a look at our calendar of events so that you can join us and begin learning how to take care of what matters most… you! Mental health matters – Make caring for your mind a priority.

Find out more about creating your own unique ‘Be Well’ plan to promote and protect your mental health and follow us on Instagram: @mtu_wellbeing Facebook: Michigan Tech WellBeing or Twitter: @mtu_wellbeing 

#itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthawarenessmonth