A recent episode of “The Change” podcast focused on University of Phoenix’s support for students’ mental well-being and how individuals can find meaning in their work. Doctor Hayden Center, Jr., Ph.D, LPC, a counseling core faculty member with the University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, spoke to Adam Baruh, podcast host and CEO of EIQ Media, LLC, about the University’s dedication to improving mental well-being in education and the workplace.

Social Connection and Finding Meaning Through Work

In the hour-long podcast episode, entitled “Finding Meaning and Connection in Our Professional Lives,” Doctor Center and Baruh shared insights into how we experience meaning, connection and feelings of safety in our professional and personal environments.

Doctor Center explained the clinical definition of “social connection” as the feeling of belonging to a group and a closeness to others. Scientific studies on psychology and neurobiology suggest that healthy social connection is crucial to feeling satisfied in life, a core psychological requirement we need to function optimally.

During the discussion, Doctor Center spoke about the University’s mission to apply this concept of social connection in combination with existing psychology and counseling knowledge. This way, the University helps students thrive, whether in a learning environment or in the workplace. He added that by teaching people how to identify and nurture a sense of connectedness for themselves, they are more likely to derive meaning and satisfaction from their lives.

The Great Resignation and Supporting Working Learners

The episode also covered the Great Resignation, an ongoing trend that began in early 2021 and has seen employees voluntarily leaving the workforce in large numbers. One major factor of this trend has been the global Covid-19 pandemic, along with the rising cost of living, a preference for remote work and general job dissatisfaction. Baruh and Doctor Center discussed how many individuals are switching jobs or completely changing industries to find work that gives their lives meaning and purpose and where they feel valued as an individual rather than as a statistic or cog in the economic machine.

The podcast discussion highlighted the perspective of adult learners who were working during the pandemic and their needs. Eighty-three percent of students at University of Phoenix work while pursuing their education, and 65 percent of students have dependents to care for. Doctor Center explained how the University’s Life Resource Center provides complementary and confidential wellness services for students who are facing challenges outside of their academic work and who may require additional support with their mental and emotional well-being.

The Life Resource Center provides access to a range of important services including private counseling, life coaching and financial consulting through over 5,000 resources in the form of webinars, articles, podcasts and more. The Center offers 24-hour crisis help, on-demand tools to support a healthy lifestyle and peer support groups that offer a unique lifeline for those facing issues relating to depression, anxiety, grief, LGBTQ+, pandemic frontline work and parenting.

Experienced Practitioner

Doctor Center is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who has specialized in addiction issues and the field of drug abuse prevention for more than 35 years. With previous experience at several universities, including Auburn University at Montgomery in the Department of Psychology, he now works in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at University of Phoenix and has been teaching at the University since 2020.

Throughout his career, Doctor Center has provided more than 500 workshops and training programs on the subjects of science-based prevention, risk and protective factors, cannabis, opioid use disorder and others. He has worked as an evaluator with various agencies, including serving the State of Alabama Department of Education to coordinate the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, and acting as a consultant to the Alabama Governor’s Office of Drug Abuse Policy for 10 years.

Normalizing Mental Health Conversations

“The Change” with Adam Baruh is a production by EIQ Media, LLC. The podcast shares stories of change makers, business leaders and other inspiring individuals who are working to solve the mental health crisis. Baruh noted that normalizing and elevating conversations about mental health in society is a shared goal of the podcast and University of Phoenix. He also recognized the University's “remarkable” efforts toward making a difference in providing safety and connection for its students. He acknowledged the University’s “genuine concern for the student population,” and emphasized that it should serve as a model to other organizations as to how they can attend to the mental health needs of their students and employees.

Listen to the full episode here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix helps adult and nontraditional learners advance their education and guides students through career options and degree programs that best suit their passions and goals. The University offers degree programs that align with many in-demand career paths such as cybersecurity, nursing and business, providing online classes, flexible start dates and numerous scholarship opportunities so that anyone can earn the degree they need.

What’s more, University of Phoenix’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates provides the resources needed to be competitive in the workforce for no additional charge. These services include resume and interview support, education and networking opportunities and career guidance. Discover more about University of Phoenix.

Author's Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.