With midterms approaching, this week I decided to talk to Mike Brock, the University of Dallas counselor, about taking care of your mental health.
LH: Could you explain to the students who you are and what you do here on campus?
MB: My name is Mike Brock, and I am a licensed Professional Counselor who works here at UD, as well as at a private practice I have in Dallas. This is my seventh year working at the university.
LH: Before we start on mental health, how about your physical health. Are you an athlete?
MB: I am a runner, and I also do some yoga and weightlifting, but mainly I run. Actually, that you say we’ll cover physical health before mental is interesting because they are actually very connected.
LH: How are they connected?
MB: Studies have shown that physical exercise, about four times a week for 40 minutes or so, is better at controlling depression than the leading anti-depressants. Good physical health is actually extremely important to good mental health.
LH: That is very interesting. Are there other connections like that?
MB: Well, when you come into my office, I actually run through what I call my “Seven Dimensions of Health.”
1) Physical – Do you exercise, how much, etc. because this is usually tied into mental well-being.
2) Psychological – Your self-awareness, what do you think of yourself?
3) Emotional – How do you manage depression and sad times? Everyone has sad times, whether it be a break-up or death in the family. This looks at how you come back from it.
4) Social – I look at this one in concentric circles. Inside, you have those one or two friends who you can really talk to. Then it slowly progresses outward from close friends to acquaintances to the “How ‘bout them Cowboys” level.
5) Relational – Do you have that best friend in your life who you share even more with? Does that bring you peace or tension? For most people who come in, this is the level that trips them up, even at my clinic with adults in Dallas.
6) Recreational/Creative – Do you have hobbies, things that you pass the time with that bring you happiness?
7) Spiritual – I don’t mean religious here, but spiritual. I heard someone define spirituality as “a sense of identification with something larger than yourself that gives your life meaning and purpose.”
Those are how I break up the important parts of life, and what we would go through together if you were to come in.
LH: What would you say to someone who is nervous about coming in?
MB: I would just invite them. That’s all I can really do. I love to hear people’s stories; it’s one of my favorite things to do, so I love it when people come in.
LH: What is the best piece of advice you have for stressed out students?
MB: Start a program of physical exercise; whatever it may be. Find something you enjoy doing and do it, and stress just melts away. Running is my daily stress-reliever, but anything works.
Wellness tip of the week: Don’t eat any foods that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize.