Student Government hosts presentation on coping with stress and anxiety

Grace Murphy

Staff Writer

Franciscan University Student Government sponsored a presentation in the Gentile Gallery on coping with stress and anxiety from a Catholic perspective Wednesday, Feb. 25.

This was one of FUSG’s new initiatives to raise awareness of mental health issues within the Franciscan community.

The presentation featured two speakers, Matthew Burris, director of the Wellness Center, and Shirley Pawlak, who holds a masters in psychology.

Burris, who opened the presentation, said, “Catholics have just as much anxiety as anyone else does.”

He said one of the biggest questions that comes up among Catholics is, “Is anxiety a sin?”

His response is, “Anxiety is not caused by not trusting by God enough and it is not caused by not praying enough.”

“Anxiety is the natural result about caring for someone, including yourself,” Burriss said.

Pawlak said that numerous scriptural figures suffered from anxiety, including Adam, Eve, Jonah and Jesus.

“Anybody worry to the point of bleeding through your skin?” asked Pawlak.

Both Burris and Pawlak defined anxiety, described the symptoms that it manifests and offered effective ways of managing anxiety, including controlled breathing. They also recommended books to help understand and cope with anxiety, including scripture.

Freshman Mary Petitte said, “I thought it was a really good opportunity to give people something to build off of with coping with their own anxiety because everyone goes in different directions with it and responds to treatments different.”

Freshman Samantha Oswald said, “I am thankful that the Franciscan (student) government is putting this on and bringing awareness to mental health issues on campus because they are so prevalent among college-aged kids.”

Students are encouraged to contact the Wellness Center if they are struggling with stress and anxiety. Student Government also has plans to continue mental health events this semester.

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