Connection, social support, and a sense of belonging are very important aspects in the lives of students. Social support has been shown in many studies to help increase resilience to stress and, according to a 2007 article published by Center for Psychiatric Research, “is exceptionally important for maintaining good physical and mental health…. (and) it appears that positive social support of high quality can enhance resilience to stress.”
Stony Brook seeks to provide ways for students to connect and build close relationships with their peers and faculty and, since the spring, our students have needed those connections more than ever.
One of those outlets is our advisory, which, despite social distancing and masks, has still been going strong. Students meet twice a week with their faculty or staff advisor, and have the chance to relax, decompress from the academic day, and talk about life together. Things look very different due to health restrictions, but that isn’t stopping students from connecting.
“As an advisor, we want our students to feel safe, and for them to know they have someone in their corner,” said Deb Abrahamsan, head of the Advisory Program and SBS Guidance Counselor. “One of my advisees is still abroad, taking classes remotely, but I still check in on her regularly to see how she’s doing.”
Another way for students to connect is through the mentor/mentee program. The program functions like a big brother / big sister program, where tenth-eleventh grade mentors help incoming seventh and eighth graders navigate the complexities of a new school, boarding life, homework load, and more. This year, we had over seventy students apply for the thirty available spots. Along with fun monthly activities, mentors meet with their mentees weekly to have a safe space to discuss topics like time-management, making friends, and transitioning back to school during a global pandemic.