August 2023 video message

Hello colleagues and friends across the U-M community!

This month’s video will be brief, since I hope all of you are having a relaxing and refreshing August break.

It’s so important that we take time to get away.

Studies have shown that vacations are important for both physical and mental well-being – they can reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

Vacations can also make us more successful in our academic and professional careers, building skills, boosting problem-solving abilities and sparking creativity.

So I encourage you: If at all possible, and whether it’s a simple staycation or a long-planned vacation, take time to get away during these August dog days.

Unplug from social media.

Turn off your phone.

Take time to disengage.

It’s so important to use this time to prepare for our wellness and mental health in the upcoming academic year. That’s why I’m so grateful for the work of Dr. Lindsey Mortenson on behalf of our students and our university. 

She’s this month’s Portrait of a Wolverine. As the inaugural Chief Mental Health Officer in Student Life, her highest priority – and mine – is the mental well-being of our community.

An experienced psychiatrist, she is dedicated to increasing access to mental health resources, including free virtual counseling for students and a new addiction medicine clinic at University Health Services.

She emphasizes our university’s robust continuum of care model, uniquely positioned to respond to an individual’s shifting mental health care needs.

I especially love her catchphrase, “Connection is protection.”

Finding time and space to strengthen your connections, whether with a loved one or a special place, can make all the difference in your mental health.

So use these beautiful moments of summer to enjoy a morning walk or a bicycle ride, an outing with family and friends, a stirring sunset. Take a break from the concerns of work and school to enjoy the now, and focus on what poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so aptly described in A Day of Sunshine.

Thanks again for joining me, and next month, we’ll look forward to welcoming you home to Michigan.