Involvement in a sorority or fraternity can be an amazing way to get involved on campus, create a support system, and develop leadership skills. However, some members of Greek Life may be faced with specific stressors at times. CAPS can assist Greek or prospective Greek members with managing any difficulties that may occur within Greek involvement. Some of the most common difficulties are elaborated on below.
Are you new to Greek life? Check out the Center for Fraternity & Sorority Life at UH.
Students of Sororities and Fraternities
Students who belong to sororities and fraternities, or other student organizations, carry a great deal of responsibility. Holding leadership or officer positions, maintaining a certain GPA, and balancing academic as well as organization responsibilities can be stressful! Provided below, is information about specific mental health issues which may affect members and leaders In Greek Life. CAPS resources that may be helpful for the issues below include Individual or Group Counseling, and helping with specific outreach events.
What are some specific topics CAPS can help me with?
College is challenging for everyone, but as a busy member of a sorority or fraternity, you may face some unique challenges. CAPS can help you if you are having difficulty adjusting, setting boundaries to get work done, need to learn better time management skills/study habits, or if you are having difficulty paying attention in class and concentrating on your work. Staying strong academically is important for Greek students. Fraternities and sororities typically have a minimum GPA requirement for members and to be able to join.
Most sororities and fraternities have semester or annual fees, which pay for events, memorabilia, and dues to the national organization. Fees will range in amount and frequency. Many organizations may offer scholarships or payment plans to help with costs. Discuss any options your organization might offer to make the financial obligation more comfortable. Budgeting, in general, can be difficult while a student. Check out this Back-to-School Money Guide: Making a Budget article for tips and resources. If financial concerns are causing significant distress, you may want to consider speaking with an individual counselor or attending a workshop on finances or stress management.
Depression is more than just temporary sadness or “the blues.” It can affect your mood, concentration, sleep, activity level, interests, and behavior. If you think you may be suffering from depression please contact a CAPS clinician or other mental health provider. If you are still unsure of your symptoms, please take this confidential, anonymous Quick Depression Test. Although this will not substitute for advice from your health provider, it may give you a better understanding of how your symptoms are affecting you and hopefully encourage you to seek help.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Members of social Greek organizations tend to use more drugs and alcohol than students not involved in these organizations. Although long-term studies show this difference evens out after college, alcohol and drug use during college can have negative side effects. Sometimes when people are having difficulties, they may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their problems. Not only does this not help the problem, but it can also create more issues academically, financially, and even with your family. Dealing with college stressors is not easy. Remember that asking for assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness. Take a free and confidential alcohol-screening test here.
The responsibilities as a student, as well as a Greek member or leader, can lead to stress. When stress goes untreated, it can deepen into anxiety. Anxiety can be experienced via panic attacks, compulsions, uncontrollable thoughts, or racing thoughts. If you are experiencing any symptoms like these that are interfering with your daily life and even your relationships, it is time to get help. These problems are not uncommon but can have devastating effects if left untreated. Take this free and confidential Anxiety Screening Test to see if you are experiencing significant anxiety symptoms.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Issues
Being a GLBT individual in a sorority or fraternity could pose some stressors. Since brotherhood and sisterhood are about accepting people for who they are, it is important that sexuality is openly discussed. Lambda10 is a wonderful resource which advises members on how to come out to their brothers or sisters, as well as provides information on how to show acceptance to brothers and sisters. In addition, Gamma Rho Lambda is a national sorority on campus for women, trans-women, and non-binary students of any race, culture, or sexual orientation. CAPS facilitates a GLBT group that may assist individuals in gaining support. Please contact CAPS for more details.
This is not an exhaustive list of topics that can be addressed at CAPS; these are just a few of the challenges that affect students in Greek Organizations. Please feel free to contact CAPS for any other topic you do not see addressed above.
Please call us at 713-743-5454 to schedule a free, initial consultation.
Tips for Busy Greek Members
Your job is to be a student. Class, meetings, study hall, work …. Wait a minute, I don't have any "me time." How am I supposed to check Facebook, do my laundry, call my mom, get a manicure, and play Xbox? Find ways to treat your responsibilities as if they were your full-time job because they are.
Get organized. First, when it comes to school work, know what is expected and when it’s due; keep a calendar or diary noting critical due dates for assigned homework. Jot down meetings and academic schedules as well so you’ll know ahead of time when you’ll be busy. A daily scheduling calendar with the days broken down into one-hour increments is a great tool for organizing your day and keeping track of what lies ahead. Also, see when you can incorporate that “me time” into your schedule. Even just 5 minutes to listen to your favorite song or try deep breathing techniques on a busy day can make a huge difference!
Be proactive. Prioritized school assignments based on due dates and the time needed to complete the work. Examine your calendar for free time and make notes in the open time slots detailing which assignment you’ll use that time to work on. Determine beforehand any resources you’ll need to complete your work (books, materials, partner participation) and make arrangements ahead of time to ensure you are prepared. Most importantly, keep your commitment to yourself and spend the allotted time working on the project you promised yourself you’d be doing. An hour wasted is one you can never get back! Plan short breaks (not vacations) to make the time you study more effective.
Learn to communicate. Despite your best efforts, there might be times when you get behind. If you see problems on the horizon, this is the time to talk to your teachers, parents, and brothers or sisters about how to address it. More often than not, teachers will work with you if you tell them ahead of time that you’ve got conflicts that might prevent you from completing an assignment on time. If you wait until the due date to inform anyone, it is a rare teacher that will cut you any slack! Advisors and parents can be a great resource in helping you work with your teachers to ensure you stay on track.
Make the most of failure. Many college freshmen experience some kind of difficulty in their first semester. For some, it's a low grade on an exam or paper; for others, it's just feeling lost or overwhelmed in their new surroundings. Resist the temptation to give up. Make a realistic assessment of where you went wrong: Did you spend enough time studying? Did you ask questions in class? Did you visit the professor during office hours for extra help? Then take the steps necessary to correct the problem, right away.
I’m a Greek Life advisor, how can I help?
Advisors are often in an ideal place to recognize when one of their members are experiences difficulties. You spend so much quality time with them and maybe viewed as a confidant and mentor. It is important to notice when a member may need assistance, and even more important to aid them in finding that assistance.
How can you help?
- Help reduce the stigma of mental health by talking about it and normalizing the need to take care of our minds.
- Call CAPS for a consultation to identify how a student could utilize service on or off-campus.
- Make sure your incoming students are aware of the resources offered at CAPS.
- Pay attention to anything that seems out of the ordinary for one of your students (i.e. poor concentration, mood swings, irritability, lack of motivations, fatigue, weakness, serious injuries) and contact an appropriate person immediately.
What is Hazing?
“Hazing” refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate. Hazing is often associated with fraternities and sororities; however, it is also seen in many different groups including clubs, sports teams, military units, workplaces, clubs, etc. Although prohibited by law, hazing is still found on many college campuses. Some students are reluctant to speak out for a variety of reasons ranging from the uncertainty of behaviors that are considered hazing to fear of retaliation from the hazers. A good rule of thumb: if you have to ask yourself if it is hazing, then it probably is. The list below contains some common hazing behaviors. This is not an exhaustive list, and if you are still unsure if you are being hazed, please feel free to consult with a CAPS clinician or other mental health provider.
Examples of Hazing
- Being yelled at or cursed at by other members of the team or group
- Lock-ups or being confined to small spaces
- Deprivation of regular hygiene practices
- Silence periods with implied threats for violation
- Deprivation of privileges
- Sleep deprivation
- Sexual simulations
- Forced or coerced alcohol or substance abuse
- Water intoxication
- Public nudity
While these acts alone are terrible and humiliating, the hidden cost of hazing may be far worse. Each student brings his/her own experiences to this campus, some of which may be unpleasant and unsettling. Re-exposure to similar events may increase the risk of a student being traumatized again. For more information on the hidden harm of hazing, please visit HazingPrevention.Org™
What to do if you are being hazed
Although you may or made not have had previous knowledge that you would be hazed when you joined your organization, it is never acceptable and you should not put up with it. If you fear losing your membership or getting your friends in trouble, you can always try talking to an organization advisor or a senior member of the organization. If that is not possible or does not yield positive results, you may encourage others who are being hazed to stick together. An organization cannot afford to lose all its new members. Please keep in mind that you are not doing yourself, other members, or the organization a favor by keeping silent. Hazing activities will eventually be made public, and that could mean serious injury to new members, and/or the end of your organization. If you still are unsure of how to proceed, please consult with a clinician at CAPS or another mental health provider.
How to tell if a friend is being hazed
- Required “greeting” of members in a specific manner when seen on campus
- Required carrying of certain items
- The appearance of mental exhaustion or withdrawal from normal lifestyle; change in personality
- Not coming home for days or weeks at a time
- Being dropped off and made to find the way back
These are just a few examples. Please explore the other resources at the bottom of the page for more information about hazing activities.
Although it can be difficult to decide what to do if a friend is being hazed, please remember that even harmless activities can escalate into something major. Initially, you may try to empower your friend to stand up for his/herself and seek help. If this proves unsuccessful, you can always discuss the best course of action with a CAPS clinician.
How can I help a brother or sister?
Brothers and sisters often turn to their own peers for support. If a peer has come to you, consider it a sign of trust and strength. Many people are unsure of how to respond. Here is a list of helpful pointers when considering how best to help a friend, brother, or sister:
- Stop what you are doing, look at the person, and simply listen.
- Listen and accept what you are given. Ask questions for clarification without judging. One of the biggest mistakes someone can make is to respond as if the problem is a sign of weakness or unimportant or trivial.
- When it appears the person has finished talking, ask if there is anything else he/she needs to say. Sometimes listening is enough.
- Indicate you are glad he/she came to you and you want to help. Don't assume, but clarify what help the person may want.
- Make the necessary referral and encourage/support its acceptance. Consulting with CAPS or other mental health professional is an excellent way to feel confident in your support.
- Know your limits. Be aware of what help is reasonable to expect from you. If you do not feel as though you can provide the help your teammate needs, know your resources. If unsure, contact a CAPS clinician to map out a course of action.