Social Work Warrior Student Wellness: Stressors

The past year has challenged all of us. From a global pandemic to devastating events highlighting racial inequity and a very contentious election – we've all had a lot on our plates. At times it has been difficult to concentrate and to figure out this 'new' normal, but we are here to help. Our Social Work Warrior Student Wellness series highlights student experience accounts acknowledging the physical, social and emotional toll of the last year, while at the same time recognizing the resilience displayed by our social work student community. Throughout the series, we encourage students to identify their stressors and challenges, acknowledge loss, be open to new ways to cope, invest in themselves, keep moving forward and remember the first step to helping others is helping yourself.

Stress feels like a wave crashing into me. I am struggling to keep up with assignments and manage my online classes.

In a recent survey, nearly half of Wayne State Social Work students reported managing work/life, keeping up with assignments, and transitioning to online school/work as their top stressors. In the first installment of our Social Work Warrior Student Wellness series, we explore the power of acknowledging our stressors and recognizing that S.T.R.E.S.S. can result when Someone Tries to Repair Every Situation Solo. What has caused you stress?


My warrior story

I started my first year of the MSW program with caution anticipating that it would be different. I enjoyed the bit of flexibility that came with online learning. Then, my son started middle school online and we found ourselves competing for the laptop oftentimes with me resorting to my phone –and honestly, that was not ideal for learning. Before I knew it, I was falling behind in my assignments and my son was struggling with his school work as well.

My field placement let me participate in online meetings and soon I was reviewing applications to prevent foreclosures among people who have been hit hard by the pandemic which made me feel like I was actually learning how to help families. Then, in November I lost my job and money got tighter. I felt like I couldn't ask for help because that would just reinforce what some in my family have said, "you're not going to make it alone", "why would you go into social work; you won't make any money."

Juggling school and my family has been tough, but I am determined to not only get by but be better at it. My son deserves a mom that is 100% and I need to be present in his life and for my education.  Many days it works, but I needed to decide what matters most.  Do I want to be stressed out? No. I want to be the mom and social worker who can overcome challenges but also realize that I can't do it alone.

So if I see myself that way, then I try to act like that person I want to become. I am trying to challenge the negative self-talk, and make better decisions to avoid stress. I hope my fellow students hear me when I say everyone struggles. And to quote country music star Luke Combs, "there will be a light after dark, someday when we aren't six feet apart."


Resources

Warriors have your back

  • If you need confidential support, you can make a request online for telehealth counseling through CAPS. You won't have to leave your home to talk to someone, it is free for enrolled students and offers one-on-one, groups, workshops, and so much more. The School of Social Work has also partnered with CAPS to offer virtual private counseling sessions on Tuesday's and Thursday's from 4 – 5 pm – learn more via Get Involved.
  • The W Food Pantry supports students with food and toiletries to those currently enrolled in classes.
  • The HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) Program helps financially stressed students reach their goal to graduate with housing support, textbooks and other school supplies, clothing, transportation, and child-care assistance.
  • Feeling under the weather? For student health care services to prevent and treat common physical illness visit Wayne State's Campus Health Center.
  • Are you looking for energy, financial, food, health, housing, internet and cell phone service, mental health counseling, transportation, unemployment, and water resources in the Detroit area? Check out our Detroit area community resource lists for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
  • Are you looking for a job or need help determining your career path? Visit our career resources page that includes our online job board.

Stay connected

  • There are a variety of student organizations where you can connect with fellow students and explore a passion.
  • Consider participating in Social Work Peer Support (SWPS), a peer-to-peer student-led learning community aimed at supporting Social Work Warriors through their academic and field education journeys. SWPS hosts individual discussions and group activities including virtual Sunday Funday's.

Academic support

  • Your advisor can be an invaluable source of motivation and support. If you haven't been seeing your advisor at least once per semester, make an appointment today at advisingworks.wayne.edu.
  • Are you looking for writing or research support? Learn more about our specialized writing and research coaches offering free support to Social Work students.
  • You are always welcome to visit faculty during office hours or email them to inquire about assistance with course deadlines.

Financial aid and scholarships

  • School is expensive and there are a variety of resources both in and out of WSU to help: start at the WSU Office of Student Financial Aid to see what options are available to you, check out WSU private scholarships which open March 1st each year, use the Michigan scholarship search tool for those who reside in the mitten state, ask your supervisor if your employer offers tuition assistance and lastly chat with your advisor – attending part-time may be a more affordable option and WSU offers an Installment Payment Plan.
  • Are you nearing graduation? Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which can provide loan repayment relief to those at qualifying 501(c)3 non-profit employers.