The Importance of Mental Health Awareness in Lambda Chi Alpha

Featured photo courtesy of the Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the importance of mental health awareness is more crucial than ever before. Research has shown that one in five college students will suffer from some form of depression or anxiety during their time at university. The question then becomes how do students, including fraternity brothers, combat the many demands and stressors of college?

Brother Fred Kam, M.D., High Pi of the Omega chapter at Auburn University, has devoted his life to helping college students understand the importance of mental health. Kam joined the Auburn Medical Clinic staff in 1997 and now serves as the medical director. In his many years in the field, Kam has seen a lot, but one thing remains constant: the transitional period of college can take a major toll on a student’s mental health.

Fred Kam. Photo courtesy of Auburn University

According to Kam, to see that an individual is in good physical health is extremely obvious, but mental health is another beast entirely.

“In today’s world, you can put on a pretty good facade that life is great and everything is wonderful, but in reality you are having tremendous anxiety or depression,” said Kam.

Because college is a time for exploration of oneself and a time to transition from operating as a child to an adult, it is very easy to become overwhelmed. Kam explains that many college students will fall into the trap of thinking an issue will work itself out, when this is just not the case.

On top of the normal demands of classes and a new environment, a student who joins a Greek organization dons an entirely new set of responsibilities. This can be the best decision of a young person’s life (having all the benefits of a brotherhood/sisterhood), but it can also have its own unique toll on one’s mental health.

Kam explains that by nature, a fraternity is meant to be an organization that helps students succeed, but sometimes can be overwhelming throughout the journey.

“In the process of trying to do everything, attend everything and get to know everyone, they position themselves into more highly stressful situations,” said Kam

Fraternities provide young men the opportunity to support each other through the transitional period of college.

But the brotherhood a fraternity provides can be exactly that: a brotherhood designed to help its members and encourage a positive environment through deep personal interactions.

Kam’s advice to brothers to continue, or start, the conversation about the importance of mental health is simple: make sure the fraternity becomes a place where all members have the ability to trust and be willing to help members who might be struggling.

“We [fraternity brothers] are always there to support and help, but we have to be given the opportunity to support and help or know that someone needs that support and help,” said Kam.

Kam also points to the many services that college campuses offer as a great place to start the conversation, such as counseling centers, substance abuse help centers, as well as screenings. He encourages all chapters to introduce early on in the semester the idea that mental health is important and invite qualified individuals to speak. Support starts with the fraternity members willing to make time for mental health awareness.

“With mental health, like with other things, the earlier you identify, the earlier you seek help, the less negative the impact it will have on your life,” stated Kam.

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