April 9, 2024

SEC ALDP Virtual Forum Brings Mental Health to Forefront

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program held its annual Spring Virtual Forum, as the event focused on identifying and overcoming stressors in higher education, specifically challenges that are unique to post-secondary faculty and administrators.

Hosted by Louisiana State University, SEC ALDP alumni heard a keynote presentation from fellow alumna Dr. Martha R. Crowther of the University of Alabama.

Crowther serves as chair of the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and associate dean for Research and Health Policy for the College of Community Health Sciences. She is a professor in the College’s departments of Community Medicine and Population Health and Family, Internal and Rural Medicine. She provides behavioral health care to patients at University Medical Center.

During the presentation, Crowther discussed stressors and symptoms for faculty that focused on self-care, stress and burnout among other topics.

She touched on strategies that institutions and individuals could use to help improve mental health outcomes for campus stakeholders, particularly faculty, staff and students. Those included individuals getting organized, setting boundaries, engaging in mentoring programs, participating in therapy and professional development resources, and identifying additional support related to tenure and promotion.

Crowther noted in her closing that many in academia are always striving to be better or perfect and moving on to the next thing. She encouraged engaging in self-compassion and reframing negative thoughts when feeling inadequate.

“Imposter syndrome is a real thing for many academics, so you need to think of yourself as being good enough,” Crowther said. “Good enough is often better than what we think for academics. We need to not think about disappointing colleagues or not meeting expectations. Sometimes we start thinking those thoughts and they aren’t true, but we just want to do more.

“I encourage everyone to be more realistic in your self-assessments and be kind to yourself.”

The SEC Academic Leadership Development Program seeks to identify, prepare and advance academic leaders for roles within SEC institutions and beyond. It has multiple components that includes a university-level development program designed by each institution for its own fellows; two SEC-wide workshops held on specified campuses for all program participants; a competitive fellowship designed to provide administrative growth opportunities for former fellows; and a virtual continuing education forum.

A new cohort is set to begin this fall that will include in-person workshops at the University of Mississippi and the University of Arkansas.