Today’s Voices article is written by Brother Joshua Goldstein, Psy.D, based in Los Angeles. Brother Goldstein is a 2011 graduate of California State University – Northridge where he served as, among other roles, master of the Chi Nu chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He received his Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, completed his post-doc training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and practices in West Los Angeles.
I know that the last several weeks in quarantine have been difficult on all of us and I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage my fraternity Brothers, undergraduates and alumni alike, to take a few minutes each day to improve both your life and the lives of your fraternity Brothers by simply reaching out and asking how they’re doing.
A major part of being in a fraternity, and specifically AEPi, is to be there for one another and there’s never been a more important time for that than right now. I remember when I was still active in the chapter, we would notice if a Brother was absent from meetings or events and one of us would reach out and check up on our Brother to make sure he was doing okay.
Today especially, with people feeling isolated and alone, that’s still what we should be doing. It’s important that we each do our part to help out. My simple advice for undergraduates is to just be an open ear and make yourselves available to your fellow Brothers. This can be particularly difficult since we can’t get together and each of us is dealing with this differently. For some, it is definitely tougher than others. There can be a true sense of loss experienced and many of us are grieving right now for the loss of our pre-COVID lives. For the undergraduate who has forever lost part of his college experience, whether it be those last days on campus, his final formal, or even his graduation commencement, this loss can be devastating.
Allow your Brothers to grieve and make sure they know that you’re there for them. Sometimes, just the simple act of reaching out can make all of the difference. They may not have anything to say and they may not even answer the phone, but the knowledge of that attempted contact can really be meaningful. For some, it can mean the world to know that they were even thought of.
And if possible, try to see your Brothers. I know that Zoom and Facetime are not quite the same as hanging out in person, but fortunately, we’re a very adaptable species. During this time, I’ve had to switch my therapy practice to entirely digital, seeing patients only by either video or phone and, although awkward at first, we’ve adapted. Also, remember that there can be safe ways to see people in person. It can be as simple as meeting up with a Brother to go for a walk and staying on separate sides of the street to maintain a safe distance. These outdoor and in-person interactions can be crucial for one’s mental health.
All of this applies to my fellow alumni, as well. Over the last few weeks, I’ve personally reached out to fellow alumni from my chapter, many of whom I haven’t spoken to in years, just to check in on them and take this opportunity to reconnect with the people I genuinely care about. It honestly doesn’t take that much time and has been such a treat to catch up with these old friends.
Finally, if in your conversations with your Brothers you believe that he (or yourself) would benefit from speaking to a professional, please encourage them to seek that support. All the therapists I know, myself included, are currently taking new patients on sliding scale fees during these tough times and having sessions via video or phone. We are all here to help, but no one more so than your Brothers.
It’s what we do in AEPi. We look after one another. We are our Brothers’ Keepers.
(Editor’s note: Alpha Epsilon Pi International has a partnership with the non-profit agency, The Jed Foundation, to provide our undergraduate Brothers with resources and support they might need in these difficult times. To get help now, text “START” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK).