We think it’s fair to say February can be a challenging month for many. The weather is cold, it’s dark and we’re all eagerly waiting for spring. February can also be an exciting month that brings opportunities to meet new people, grow relationships you already have and practice self-care.
MAINTAINING AND FOSTERING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
When it comes to being the healthiest you can be, your connection with others might just be the biggest tool in your tool belt. Connecting with others comes with major health benefits and can help satisfy the three main areas in your life, including your physical, emotional and mental health. To make sure connections impact you positively, it’s important to make sure those relationships are healthy.
You may be wondering, “what does a healthy relationship even mean?” Below is a chart that helps break down seven key components of healthy relationships. It’s important to remember this isn’t just for romantic relationships, but also friendships and partnerships.
How to build healthy relationships.The first step is to be patient with yourself. Building healthy relationships and friendships can take time. Make sure you are being patient and kind with others too as they learn to trust someone and build a foundation.
Identify your own needs and boundaries so you can communicate clearly with your friend or partner what those may be. Remember to also ask them about theirs. Knowing each other’s boundaries can help avoid conflicts and misunderstandings in the future.
Use healthy communication in your conversations. Use “I statements” to clearly express yourself without placing blame or judgment. Make sure to not name-call or throw insults when trying to effectively communicate.
It’s always important to forgive where you can and seek forgiveness when you screw up. When you expect more from others than you expect from yourself, your relationships are not going to be nearly as enduring and healthy as you might hope. Being able to accept and forgive the shortcomings of others makes it much more likely that you’ll build the kind of friendships and partnerships that last.
Be open to new people and experiences! As you’re building healthy relationships, it’s important to remember that not everyone will have the same hobbies or experiences as you. Be open to trying new things and meeting new people during those moments. There are a lot of ways to meet new people on campus, including joining a club or campus organization.
WVU has a lot of fun activities planned for students throughout the semester. You can find events happening across campus on the WVU Events Calendar.
WVUp All Night is also a fun event held in the Mountainlair with free food, free activities and giveaways!
Healthy balance.As important as it is to have healthy relationships with others, it’s equally important to have a healthy relationship with yourself. Make sure to maintain a balance between healthy relationships and self-care. WELLWVU has a lot of relationship resources for students to lean on if they ever run into a situation they are unsure how to handle.
February is often thought to be the month of love. Not only does it hold the Valentine’s Day holiday, but the weather outside tends to favor just staying in and being with loved ones. If Valentine’s Day and the cold weather have you wanting to cozy up to a partner, don’t forget to keep it safe! If you have any questions about sexual health, check out WELLWVU’s website.
Open communication. If you’re choosing to be sexually active, make sure you talk about how you plan to protect yourself and your partner. That includes talking about things like barrier methods (external condoms, internal condoms and dental dams) to help protect from STIs. Did you know WVU students can order supplies for free from WELLWVU?
Sit down and talk with your partner about each other’s sexual histories and getting tested.
This is also a good time to discuss each other’s boundaries. Make sure that both you and your partner are clear on the definition of consent. You want to be certain that you and your partner are engaging in this behavior because it’s what you both want. You should never feel pressured into doing something that you are not ready for or do not want and you should never pressure your partner into doing anything they’re not ready for either.
Build a connection. A lot of people choose to get close to their partners without bringing sex into the equation. There are many reasons that a person chooses to abstain and if you and your partner are making that choice, there are still plenty of fun things that you can do to build intimacy and connection.
Celebrate however you choose. You don’t have to have a partner to celebrate Valentine's Day. Spending time with friends or family is another great way to celebrate and make connections with people you love. It’s also a great day to focus on yourself and choose to do some self-care.
Carruth has several programs available to students on campus who want to get involved, learn more about mental health or are seeking support. Sometimes the programs are a partnership with other WVU departments and student groups; other times the programs are sponsored by Carruth. Visit Carruth’s Outreach website to learn more about the programs that are currently available — check back frequently as new programs are added all the time.
Look below at a few programs Carruth is currently offering:
Mental Health 101 Training
These training sessions are 90 minutes long and focus on current national mental health statistics, effective listening skills and an in-depth look at the services provided by the Carruth Center and CARE Team. The sessions also review the warning signs of suicide and allow participants to practice how to safely intervene with students who are in distress. The workshops are open to all WVU students, faculty and staff and have both in-person and virtual options available. Visit WellWVU’s mental health training resources website to learn more about the workshops, see the spring 2023 schedule and register for a workshop.
The Body Project
The Body Project is a four-session, group-based program designed to help college students feel better about their bodies. The program provides a forum for students to confront unrealistic appearance ideals and develop healthy body image and self-esteem. There are two sessions available for students to choose from. For more information or to register, please contact Carmella Polak or Megan Thomas.
Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Support Space
This support group gives us a place to explore intersectionality and identity-related stressors, building community while navigating higher education, mental well-being and fostering joy and celebrating the richness of culture. For more information or to register, please contact Laith Alabbad or Katy Spraggins.
Send Help! Student Parent Support Space
Are you a student trying to navigate your role as a parent and a student? If so, we invite you to join the Student Parent Support Group. Parenting can be challenging, and it’s helpful to have support from others. For more information or to register, please contact Layne Hitchcock or Spring Szoka.
Queer Book Club
This club meets on the third Tuesday of each month and reads the latest queer literature! This is a safe space to discuss topics around mental health and the LGBTQIA+ community. Books are provided and returned on a book-by-book basis. For more information or to register, please contact Carmella Polak.
Well-being Adventure Series
Adventure WV and Carruth have partnered together to bring the Well-being Adventure Series for students this spring semester. These programs are FREE to WVU students, are only a few hours long and involve basic instructions — along with some wellness components. To learn more about the activities or register, visit Carruth's Well-being Adventure Series website.
University Police: 304-293-COPS (2677)
Carruth Center: 304-293-4431 (press 1 after hours)
Crisis Text Line: Text “WVU” to 741741
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
Veteran Crisis Line: 988 (press 1)
Trevor Project Hotline (LGBTQ): 1-866-4UTREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
Carruth Center has an urgent/crisis clinic that provides in-person visits without an appointment for students who are experiencing a psychological emergency. Call 304-293-7731 (press 1 after hours)