When Jon Wood (University of Tulsa, ‘08) went through recruitment during his undergraduate years, mental health was one of the furthest things from his mind.
While Wood’s Brothers in Lambda Chi helped him stay on track with his studies, he will be the first to admit that his sleep and checking in with his mental health went by the wayside. Now, as a nontraditional medical student at the University of Nebraska, Wood is pouring himself into finding ways to encourage growth in himself and other members of the Fraternity.
One of the areas in which Wood is focusing is the importance of sleep for optimal health. Wood says that it is crucial for all adults to maintain at least seven hours of sleep to perform at the best of their ability.
Another aspect of Wood’s advocacy is the importance of seeking help from a competent mental health professional. For Wood, a major shift occurred while coming to terms with his divorce at the age of 30. Crucially, Wood sought the help of a licensed professional, which was an important step in forming his understanding of mental health.
“The first meeting I had with a mental health provider, they changed my perception on the situation at the time,” said Wood. “I had been in a very unhealthy mind space because of the divorce…even on just that first visit, it had such a dramatic impact that ever since then, I have valued having a mental health provider.”
Wood fully believes that the key to understanding mental health not only begins with being honest with yourself but with others as well. When applied to fraternity men, Wood is working to advise the team at the Office of Administration (OOA) to maintain the fine balance between encouraging activities that foster bonds within chapters while avoiding the threat of letting those activities devolve into hazing.
“Your fraternity, for most men, is going to be sharing experiences for three or four years during your time as an undergraduate,” said Wood. “You need to be vulnerable to be able to connect with other people.”
As Wood continues his own mental health journey while in medical school, he encourages Brothers and friends alike to seek opportunities to connect and reflect on how they can be continually improving.