Last Tuesday, chapter members of the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the Intercultural Greek Council attended their first I CARE training— an intensive mental health program facilitated by Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
Director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Eddie Banks-Crosson said that while in the past the training was offered to Greek organizations, this was the first time they chose to engage in it.
Launched in 2014, I CARE training is designed to help students recognize and address signs of mental health issues in their peers. Students and faculty can register as individuals, though I CARE has recently gained momentum in training students through their respective student organizations.
“I think this is a great step in the right direction,” Banks-Crosson said. “It’s just broader education that they’re asking the groups to participate in.”
The College Dean Advisory Board recently launched an initiative to expand I CARE training to all student groups on campus. Head of DAB’s mental health sub-committee and College junior Matt Foman said DAB felt the Greek community was a good place to start.
“I think it’s really valuable to have given it to the Greek community,” Foman, the vice president of Sigma Alpha Mu, said. “I think that Greek life is a place where people can be very real with each other and aren’t really afraid to talk about more intimate things.”
CAPS has not responded to request for comment.
While neither DAB nor CAPS can mandate members to attend I CARE training, IFC President and College junior Bradley Freeman said the IFC executive board decided to require that one person from each chapter attend the training sessions. The IFC also strongly suggested that the attendees be members of their respective chapter’s executive board or underclassmen who are looking to apply for leadership positions in the future.
Freeman added that as a member of a fraternity chapter on campus, he sees the value in having a designated person within every Greek organization who is trained in dealing with mental health issues.
“This is obviously an issue that gets discussed a lot,” Freeman said. “I’ve certainly seen things within my chapter and I can imagine that it applies to other chapters as well.”
Vice President of Public Relations of Panhel and College junior Caroline Kane attended the I CARE training. She said an advantage of the training was that it encouraged collaboration between the three Greek-life councils.
“With IFC, Panhellenic and IGC, you get a wide array of backgrounds,” Kane said. “It’s always useful to have that representation at the table.”
Foman made similar remarks. “These kind of conversations also don’t really happen between those Greek groups. I think this kind of gave them the opportunity to talk about it together,” he said.
IGC President GC and College junior Angie Wang said she felt that the training was a positive experience for those who attended.
“The staff were very knowledgeable and the training kind of built on itself,” Wang said. “It was three hours long, but didn’t feel that long at all.”
College freshman and fraternity member Andy Neumann agreed, adding that he learned a lot from attending the I CARE training.
“It’s definitely important to have people within each organization that do know these things,” he said.