Mental Health Matters

Learn About Mental Health

Take A Closer Look


Learning about the ways mental health affects - and is affected by - our daily lives can help you care for your holistic health & well-being. 

What is Mental Health?

  • Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. (World Health Organization, 2022)
  • At every stage of life mental health can be affected by many factors- it is not static.
    Be proactive in caring for your mental health by learning and trying various tools and resources.

What is Stress?

Understanding Stress

  • Stress is the way we respond, with our mind and/or body, to our environment or an event that happens. This response can vary throughout the course of a day.

Where Does Stress Come From?

  • Stress can be caused by difficult relationships, academic pressure, health problems, grief, loss, problems at work, financial difficulties, negative thinking, social anxiety, aggression, suppressed emotions, and exhaustion.

Types of Stress

  • There are several different types of stress. The main three types people experience most often are acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Read about the types of stress here.

The Stress Response System

  • From a physiological perspective, stress is the body’s biological response to a perceived threat. The stress response system sends chemicals and hormones surging through your body. That’s what causes your heart rate to increase or your stomach to flutter. It’s your body reacting to something it thinks could be dangerous. Stress alerts your brain and energizes your body. 


What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness, and what are the benefits of it? 

  • Mindfulness teaches us how to be present in the moment. It is the practice of bringing our awareness to what is happening right now, with an attitude of compassion and curiosity.
  • The benefits of mindfulness are vast. It improves attention, reduces stress, and results in better emotion regulation and an improved capacity for compassion and empathy.
  • It can be helpful to think about mindfulness as a muscle. Incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives needs to be a deliberate exercise; the more we practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes to incorporate it more frequently and the more we will reap the benefits.

  • Free Meditation Apps: 
  • Come learn new mindfulness skills and techniques, and meet like-minded peers at Mindful Mondays! 

Mindfulness vs Meditation

  • If mindfulness is a muscle, then meditation is a technique we can use to build our muscle. Mindful meditation has been used to treat stress, anxiety and depression for a very long time. 
  • Try some brief breathing exercises for reducing stress and for relaxation.

    Breathing Prompts:

    Ocean | 2 Minute Guided Meditation | Kauai Beach

    Mountains | take a deep breath

    Forest |


    If you are interested in Koru Mindfulness, contact Judy Oxford, or 617-552-6833

BC C.H.A.T.S: Helpful Tips for a Tough Conversation

BC C.H.A.T.S: Helpful Tips for a Tough Conversation
  • BC C.H.A.T.S. provides an educational framework to understand a component of our comprehensive approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention on campus. This is to empower people with basic talking points on what to say or do to dispel the fear related to conversations about suicide prevention. Our intention is to make you feel more comfortable with an uncomfortable subject because it’s one that very few people feel qualified to address, but it’s a critical conversation that we need to have in order to feel ready and able to effectively engage with students with anyone struggling. Our program is designed to educate you so that you can feel confident in your ability to intervene properly and refer when necessary.

  • A core component of BC C.H.A.T.S. is QPR, an evidence-based suicide prevention gatekeeper training, which is being offered across campus for the Boston College community. Visit the next section to learn more about how to participate in a QPR workshop.

What does it stand for?

BC C.H.A.T.S. is an acronym to help you remember the important steps when approaching a conversation with someone who is struggling or who you are concerned about:

C = communicate concern

  • When you tell someone you are concerned about them, instead of making general statements, point out specific changes you’ve noticed.

    • Use “I” statements instead of “you”:
    • “I’ve noticed…”
    • “I’m worried about…”
    • “I feel like…”

  • It is okay to be honest about your own nerves, your own emotions, that are coming up - it can be really helpful to share how difficult it is for you to have this conversation:

    • “I’m [a bit / really] nervous about bringing this up but…”

  • When sharing your concerns, make it clear that asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness

H = have empathy and compassion.

  • When you are listening to someone, make sure you can be fully present. Listen, reflect, and help them feel heard. If you are running to something or are in a busy area, it may not be the best time to engage in this conversation. Do your best to find a private, comfortable space with no distractions.

  • Use clarifying questions to get clear on what they’re saying, trying to say, or avoiding saying:

    • “Tell me more about that.”
    • “What does that mean to you?”
    • “Can you expand on that?”

  • When someone is sharing with you, make it your goal to listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless or in pain, and do so without judgment. It is not your job to fix it. The most helpful thing you can do throughout this whole exchange is be there. In that moment, it is your job to listen and empathically respond:

    • “Thank you for sharing this with me”
    • “You are so brave”
    • “You are not alone”
    • “I’m right here with you”
    • “I know this can be hard to talk about, I’m here to listen”

A = ask questions, including directly about suicide. 

  • Let them know you want to hear more about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. Listen actively by expressing curiosity and interest. 

  • Use clarifying questions to get clear on what they’re saying, trying to say, or avoiding saying:

    • “Tell me more about that”
    • “What does that mean to you?”
    • “Can you expand on that?”

  • Through our gatekeeper training, you will learn the steps involved in recognizing the signs of someone experiencing intense emotional or psychological distress and how to ask the question with someone who may be experiencing a suicidal crisis. If you are noticing warning signs, it is important to ask directly about suicide. This is not going to put the idea in their head. There are direct and indirect ways to ask the question. 

    • “Have you ever wanted to stop living?”
    • “Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?”
    • “When someone is experiencing as much distress as you are describing to me, they sometimes think of hurting themselves. Are you feeling this way?”
    • “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”
    • “Are you thinking about suicide?”

  • Ask about what other supports they have been or are currently utilizing, and/or who else they have talked to about any of what they’re sharing with you.

  • What can you say if they tell you they’re thinking about suicide?

    • Stay calm - just because someone is having thoughts of suicide, it doesn’t always mean they’re in immediate danger. Take the time to calmly listen to what they have to say, and ask some follow-up questions.

      • “How often are you having these thoughts?”
      • “When it gets really bad, what do you do?”
      • “What scares you about these thoughts?”
      • “What do you need to do to feel safe?”

  • Reassure them that help is available, and that these feelings are a signal that it’s time to talk to a mental health professional.

T = take initiative

  • Please note: the Dean of Students office contains a plethora of information and valuable resources about identifying and responding to students of concern. 
  •  While you want to resist the urge to fix or give advice, it is important to encourage this person to connect to help. You are being a great person in having this supportive conversation - but you are not a mental health professional. Your goal is to connect them to proper resources.

    • “I want to help, but I’m not a professional. Let’s connect you with   someone whose job it is to help people move through hard things like this. I will do it with you”
    •  “I hear that you’re really struggling, and I think it would be really  beneficial for you to talk to someone who can help you get through this”
    • “You know, therapy isn’t just for serious, ‘clinical’ problems. It can help any of us process any challenges we’re facing - and we all  face serious stuff sometimes”
    •  “I really think talking to someone can help you gain some   perspective, and keep things from getting worse” 

  •  Let them know that you will stay with them until they get help. Depending on your own capacity, you may choose to offer to be a part of the outreach and referral process - sometimes making that first moment of contact to professional help can be the hardest. 

    • “I could call or walk with you to your appointment, then we could have coffee afterwards”
    • “There are some national resources available. Why don’t we call or text ‘988’ together?”
    • learn more about signs & levels of distress and corresponding response options, visit the next section, ‘QPR’, and sign up for a gatekeeper training workshop.

  • If the person you care about has told you they’re thinking of suicide, it’s a warning sign they should speak with a professional immediately. Do not promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

  • Please note: if someone indicates any thoughts or plans regarding suicide, past or present, it is imperative that proper steps are taken to care for this individual, which includes contacting the office of the Dean of Students to report these concerns. Call 617-552-3470 or visit to learn more about mandatory reporting & to complete the form.

S = seek support

  • Know what you need. These are hard conversations and hard situations to be a part of, and it is important that you are checking in with yourself: what are your own limits regarding how much capacity you have for this conversation? This will inform how you engage in a situation.

  • This is also a good time to turn to your mental health toolkit and engage in some practices that help you care for yourself in the way that you need. Visit the “Building Your Mental Health Toolkit” section below to learn more.

  • Don’t forget to utilize the resources available on campus for yourself! It is important that you find support, ideally a colleague, mentor, or supervisor - someone you can debrief and connect with afterward. You are not meant to hold this alone. 

  • Understand and embrace the boundaries of your role. Knowing what we can do, and what we can’t do, is crucial to maintaining our own health & well-being:

    • We can: listen, be clear and direct, connect them to help, and follow-up
    • We can’t: force someone to want help, fix it, keep it secret, or do a formal risk assessment

Curious about more?

Students: Sign-up for a QPR Suicide Prevention Open Session.

Faculty: Sign-up for a QPR Suicide Prevention Open Session.


Mental Health Awareness Programming on Campus

  • Together for Mental Wellness Fair
  • No Shame November for Men's Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Mental Health Awareness Week. If you are interested in being involved, please contact our Assistant Director of Mental Health & Wellness, Nicole Jeter, at!

Managing Stress

Recognizing when it’s unhealthy or too much

  • Stress is not always bad! In fact, it is what helped our ancestors avoid danger and survive.
  • Mild to moderate stress can be good for you. It can even motivate you. It's important to identify how stress impacts you and to find ways to combat stress.

Identifying Sources of Stress

  • What makes you tick? 
  • What frustrates you? 
  • What patterns are you stuck in that could benefit from evaluation? 
  • Once you are aware of patterns that could use some adjustment, you can begin to change them. Changing your patterns of negative thinking will eventually change your behaviors and reactions to stressors.

Basic Stress Management Techniques

  • Activate Your Relaxation Response. 
    • Try deep breathing, meditation, visualization or yoga! 

Koru Mindfulness

Interested in Koru? Contact Judy Oxford, or 617-552-6833

QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training for Students, Faculty, and Staff

QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training

  • QPR is a 1.5 hour evidence-based suicide prevention training developed by the QPR institute. QPR teaches how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and to follow the 3 simple steps of QPR - question, persuade, and refer. QPR helps save lives, and you can be part of this movement to reduce stigma and offer hope to those in crisis.

Key components covered in training:

  • How to Question, Persuade, and Refer someone who may be in a suicidal crisis
  • How to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide
  • How to properly identify and respond to the warning signs of serious psychological distress
  • How to get help for someone in crisis

QPR training sessions are held throughout the semester and are open to all students, faculty, and staff.

Open Session Dates For Students

  • Tuesday, January 30th 1-2:30 pm

  • Monday, February 12th from 3-4:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 22nd from 1-2:30 pm

  • Friday, March 15th from 1-2:30 pm

  • Wednesday, March 20th from 10:30 am -12:00 pm

  • Friday, April 5th from 1-2:30 pm

  • Tuesday, April 23rd from 1-2:30 pm

Fill out this form to sign up

Open Session Dates for Faculty/Staff

  • Wednesday, January 10th from 12-1:30 pm (VIRTUAL SESSION)

  • Monday, February 5th from 3-4:30 pm 

  • Tuesday, February 27th from 1-2:30 pm 

  • Thursday, March 21st from 3-4:30 pm 

  • Friday, March 15th from 1-2:30 pm 

  • Tuesday, April 2nd from 1-2:30 pm 

  • Friday, April 19th from 10:30 am - 12 pm

Fill out this form to sign up


Interested in scheduling a specific date for your group? The Boston College QPR team is available to conduct a training session for classes, department meetings, student organizations, and more! Fill out the QPR Request Form and a member of our team will reach out.

QPR Training Request Form


  • Please contact Nicole Jeter, Assistant Director, Mental Health & Wellness, for more information:  | 617.552.6973

Building Your Own Mental Health Toolkit

Our office operates with a holistic and inclusive approach to health. We believe that students deserve the opportunity to meet their own health needs, define wellness for themselves, and to listen to and honor their bodies, minds, and souls, to cultivate a life that is balanced and sustainable. To that end, we know that we cannot adequately address mental health without considering the multiple dimensions of wellness. In this section, you will find a plethora of ideas and resources to help you begin to build your own mental health toolkit, with the goal of equipping you with the foundational skills to sustain your wellness toolbox over time.


Think of this as a toolkit that you should constantly be trying to access if not optimize on a regular basis because all of these tools raise the buoyancy - the resiliency - of your overall system.


Stress and trauma, the difficult things we experience, build up inside of our central nervous system. Just like they build up inside of us, we want to be able to get them out of our system. We want to do activities or exercises that release and rewire that stress and trauma from our system.


There is no one size fits all approach to taking care of ourselves: there are a variety of ways we can actively release and rewire the stress and trauma out of our systems and start to naturally heal. The skills you will find in this section are just a handful of examples to get you started as you begin building your own toolkit.




When to Seek More Help