MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (March 17, 2023) — For the past few years, Corey Pevitz ('24) of Naperville, Illinois, has helped make a difference in the Monmouth chapter of Zeta Beta Tau by serving as the fraternity's risk and wellness director.

"Risk had been the priority in my role, and wellness had been overlooked, especially mental wellness," said Pevitz, who is also president of the Delta Lambda chapter. "Our ZBT national has really started pushing that, though."

That push led to the fraternity's establishment of a national mental-health committee. Pevitz was recommended to fill one of two student seats on the committee, due in part to the Monmouth chapter's strong overall reputation as a regular Brummer Cup finalist as well as recent successes in the area of risk management.

His first official action in the role was to take part in a Zoom meeting during spring break. One of the programs discussed, he said, was a mental-health advocacy workshop that would be presented in a four-year rotation so that every ZBT member would be exposed to the experience during their undergraduate years.

That said, one of the roles Pevitz sees himself fulfilling on the committee is being an advocate for what smaller colleges need, and how that might differ from the mental-health programming at large universities.

"Programming can often go in one ear and out the other, so I'm also eager to find options that are better for a place like Monmouth," he said. "We have a different culture and are vastly different from larger schools. So I hope to help find solutions that will cater to our different needs. In that sense, I did a little push back on some of the things that were discussed."

Validation and understanding

What works best at a school like Monmouth, said Pevitz, is capitalizing on its small size to take more of a one-on-one approach.

"A big part of it is individually checking in and talking with other people," he said. "Just be honest with people and provide an environment where they'll be validated and understood, not judged. It's also important to be able to point them toward resources."

The Counseling Center in Poling Hall and the College's equity coordinator, Lori Ferguson, are two such resources, and Pevitz also suggested off-campus options that include 24/7 crisis hotlines and family-planning services.

"I want to help spread the message that a person doesn't have to be in a position of power to speak about the positives of seeking mental health — that they can act as a beacon for those who are seeking mental health," he said. "They can help a person make that change by being that beacon."

He said that another message he wants to convey is that "seeking help is not a negative aspect of their character. It should be applauded and validated."

Teachers and mental health

Reading Pevitz's thoughts and accomplishments in the area of mental-health advocacy, one might guess that he's on a psychology track at Monmouth. However, the junior is a social-science education major who plans to become a teacher. He knows that he'll daily encounter issues related to mental health when he has his own classroom.

"The College does a good job of preparing us to address individuals' needs when it comes to teaching content," he said. "They're very cognizant of the learning needs of different students."

But students also have very individualized mental-health needs, as well.

"It goes beyond their learning needs," said Pevitz. "The baggage that students take into class every day can be substantial. It's a hard line to toe for a teacher, because you're stepping into their personal life. So there's a lot of conversation in education about what a teacher's role should be in that area."

Pevitz was asked if mental-health awareness, overall, is gaining momentum.

"I'm optimistic," he replied. "It comes in waves depending on the political, economic and global atmosphere. So there are ebbs and flows. The attention being given to mental health is trending in the correct direction, but there is still much work to be done."

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