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Doing Good with Self-Esteem

Doing Good with Self-Esteem

January 24, 2019

A synopsis of course theme papers
Edited by class members, Madison Johnson ’19 and Melanie Gutierrez ’19

There are a number of important socio-political issues that have emerged and become part of the national debate, perhaps more so this year because of the national elections. One of the most concerning is that the rate of suicide in the United States has increased by over 25 percent between 1999 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CNN, June 22, 2018: This is a sad and alarming phenomenon.

As such, we took the opportunity to study and discuss this issue by establishing “Doing Good with Self-Esteem,” the theme for the fall semester’s Management 310 course led by Santo D. Marabella, professor of management. Four critically important, relevant, and complex topic categories were created: Context of Healthy Self Esteem; Eroding/Diminishing Self-Esteem; Outcomes of Poor Self-Esteem; and Intervening with Self-Esteem. Students crafted research questions that elaborated on a variety of points of view in each category. Through reviews of the literature and popular press/media, they developed responses to their questions that offered recommendations or strategies to make a positive difference in elevating our self and others’ self.

As a way to share a concise understanding of these topics and the responses the students came to develop, we are happy to include the abstracts of each student’s paper below, along with their name and research question.

[Photos above: On November 6, 2018, the class Doing Good at Work spent the afternoon at the Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem. It was a class session planned by students around the course theme Doing Good with Self-Esteem.]

CJ Barnes ’20

What impact does workplace stress have on triggering a negative body image?

Stress is known to be caused from pressures of everyday life. When in the workplace specifically, stress can limit your working ability and create an overall poor, work ethic. Stress in the workplace can cause negative body image by employees being filled with stress from their workload or things at home and they are trying to stuff their emotions and stress by doing other things such as binge eating and isolation. In the future, I believe that communication with friends or other co-workers can help prevent negative body image in the workplace because if others understand the individual’s stress and are willing to talk to the stressed-out person, the individual may be able to relieve stress and create a better body image in the workplace and in general.

Jenna Bayrasli ’18

How are people with mental illness affected by the social perception and stigma of mental illness?

Through my research I learned about what stigma is, what it consists of, and how it can negatively affect those who struggle with mental illness. By reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness, we have the opportunity to alleviate some of the stress of people with mental illness. Possible courses of action to destigmatize mental illness include education and understanding of the consequences of our negative attitudes on the mentally ill.

Hannah Bovard ’20

Is today’s over usage of social media and technology linked to the rise of depression in adolescents and young adults?

The topic of my paper was on some of the reasons behind the increase in teen depression. What I found was that one potential reason behind the increase is the introduction of social media technology, as well as the over-usage of smartphones and other technological devices. Over- usage of these devices can prevent young people from having real, face-to-face relationships and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. When used in moderation, these devices can be useful, however it can be a drastically harmful thing when not moderated by parents.

William Brazukas ’19

Can a person contemplating suicide be stopped?

The research I found suggested that most suicidal individuals give some sort of warning of their intentions. The key point of this paper is to grasp a better understanding of how we can respond to these warnings. Many people lack knowledge of suicide and what causes someone to be suicidal. I found that if we educate people on suicide, we may be able to help someone who is suicidal change their mind.

Julia Charben ’20

What can middle school teachers do to eliminate or reduce bullying?

Bullying is unfortunately still very present in today’s middle school classrooms, and it is affecting the learning and comfort of children. Going forward, teachers cannot eliminate the bullying completely by themselves, instead we need to work together as a society and say no to bullies. In other words, a stronger support system for these students is needed in hopes to give them a promising future.

AJ Cioffi ’19

What are the implications of staying within a job just for the money?

The topic of my course theme paper was the effect of financial factors on an individual’s self- esteem. Although people may hold high-paying or financially supportive occupations, they may not find personal happiness or contentment in their work. For this reason, it is extremely important to follow your passion, as this is the only true path to inner happiness and strong self- esteem. By following one’s passion, not only will they find satisfaction in their work, but the money will eventually come as well, as their passion will allow them to do their work extremely well.

Matthew Clapps ’20

What role can pet therapy animals play in impacting our experience of depression?

While researching, I learned that those who suffered with depression and visit centers with therapy animals or even adopt are able to benefit from multiple mental issues. Reduced stress and anxiety and increased self-esteem were the most common effects from therapy animals. The main point I noticed was isolation in those who are depressed, and that a companion such as an animal used for therapy is more than practical in this circumstance. Unfortunately, as stated before, mental illness is growing. Future implications can result in a higher number of pet therapy institutions and increased numbers of animals who become adopted. Those who are depressed cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, but a therapy animal can help bridge this gap.

Shiloh Coccodrilli ’19

How does the stigma of being violent and dangerous affect the self-esteem of the mentally ill?

Being classified as dangerous and violent and having that stigma define you throughout your life can result in actually believing that about oneself, which is a sociological self-fulfilling prophecy. Stigma and discrimination can delay or impede them from getting help and treatment, and in their overall recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental health, therefore these discriminating stigmas can trap people in a cycle of illness. Research shows that the best way to challenge these stereotypes is through firsthand contact with people with mental health problems. The effectiveness of removing the dangerous, violent stigmas of mental illness through in-person interaction was found to have significant decreases in social distance, and significant increases in knowledge and attitude scores between people interacting with and without a mental illness.

Kurt Dick ’19

How do we recognize the signs and symptoms of depression?

The topic of my research was depression and looking for the signs of symptoms in people whom may have it. During my research, I found that the signs and symptoms in diagnosing depression can be very difficult to decipher. Generally speaking, genders and the emotions they display can cause depression in different ways. Depression has many signs and symptoms and can be different for one person to the next, it is up to outsiders to always be alert to possible signals.

Ryan Drury ’19

How do stereotypes about the ideal body affect one’s self esteem?

The topic of my paper was body image and eating disorders. From this research, I determined that If you continue to create bad habits for yourself, it will only lead to the negative effects on the image that you display for yourself. That being said if nobody was ever told what the “ideal body” image is, society would be a much more accepting place for everyone. Overall, it would just be a better environment for everybody doing things how they want without being judged by the way we eat or dress. Ways we interact with others would be done in such a simpler way if everyone could understand we are equal.

Hayden DuPont ’19

Has poverty impacted your ability to be healthy?

Overcrowded and poor living conditions can contribute to the spread of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Reliance on open fires or traditional stoves can lead to deadly indoor air pollution. A lack of food, clean water, and sanitation can also be fatal. These were all prominent factors in my research. I also learned about the devastating impact those conditions can have on one's ability to do work, and the lack of support to help people experiencing these situations. I learned a lot about this problem issue and it opened my eyes to what I could do to help.

Shane Fisher ’19

What support exists for the argument that addiction is a controllable behavioral "flaw" rather than a genetic, medical disease?

For my paper I found that evidence exists for both sides. There are plenty of people who claim addiction is just a behavioral flaw. The opposition to this group would be those that use science to demonstrate that in fact addiction is a medical disease. The conclusion of my paper would side with those that believe addiction is a medical disease because they use science in comparison to the other camp that use opinion instead of scientific facts to support their argument.

Taylor Garza ’19

How does being a person who helps others impact one’s own health and wellness?

Helping others impacts our overall mental and physical health. It can lower stress and anxiety, boost self-confidence, and make you feel good. It’s been proven that helping people make goals and meet those goals, working with others, and increases in social activities can help reduce chronic pain and high blood pressure. The majority of people in the workplace reported managing stress as a huge struggle in their daily life. Stress can eat away at us until we find a way to get rid of it. Volunteering and helping others – putting your energy in someone else’s life - is a great way to get the focus off of your job and yourself. If more people would take time to help people in need, they could impact another person and their own health and wellness.

Melanie Gutierrez ’19

To what extent do the effects of childhood bullying work to diminish one’s notion of self?

Childhood bullying is of paramount importance especially while considering that one’s personality or identity – one’s self – is developed during their childhood. Dangers exist for their future as well, “Victims of bullying are more at risk for symptoms of depression and low self- esteem as young adults than compared to their non-victimized peers.” An extensive relationship exists between bullying and suicide. Actions should be taken to help kids understand bullying, keeping the lines of communication open is critical. We must model how to treat others with kindness and respect, the responsibility is all of ours whether one is a parent or not. We need to encourage differences, rather than reject them. If the community works together we can transform this culture of pain, rage and revenge and we can turn vulnerability into resilience.

Madison Johnson ’19

What impact does social media have on vulnerable adolescent women’s body image?

Social media has completely taken over our lives. It’s becoming so common nowadays for adolescents to have access to social media platforms which can play a big role in damaging their self-esteem and body image. As a society we need to come together and put an end to body shaming. We can do this by creating positive messages towards body image that divert the attention and obsession over these images of “perfect bodies” and start accepting and advocating for all body types and appearances.

Nick Merlino ’19

How can companies help workers reduce workplace depression?

Depression in the workplace is very costly to businesses, due to the reduced amount of work a depressed worker is able to accomplish. Depression is most common amongst women, teens, and those in their 20s and is something that is treatable if help is sought. A good HR department with training in this field should be able to spot some potential signs of a depressed employee, signs may include frequent absences, showing up late, missing deadlines, or emotional outbreaks in the workplace. Ways of helping include employee outreach, listening, offering support and keeping up with the employees to see how they are progressing. Helping to reduce workplace depression can be beneficial to employers because it can help boost job satisfaction and a happy employee can be a more productive employee.

Peter Milewski ’19

Why is affluence or wealth not a guarantee for a positive self-image or self-worth?

The topic of my paper was economic and financial issues. The research that I did concluded that as a person becomes more wealthy, they become less generous, more isolated; they constantly want more or the next big thing. Also, if their money comes from a career for which they have little or no passion, then it (the money) can have a negative impact on one's self esteem.

Enes Nikocevic ’20

Can a person contemplating suicide be stopped?

What I incorporated in my paper was that I feel that there are some signs that a suicidal person is showing. There are many outlets that someone that is contemplating suicide can reach out to and use in the process of helping someone find their way in this world and lower the risk of suicide. The implication is that educating more people on realizing the risk of suicide in a person and knowing the steps and resources that exist can help to reduce the number of suicides.

Nathaniel Rhoads ’19

What are the signs that the sadness one is experiencing is, or could become, unhealthy?

Two important factors determining the healthiness of one’s sadness are intensity and
duration. The more intense and longer the sadness, the unhealthier it is. Even though the symptoms of depression and related depressive disorders are well documented and agreed upon by mental health professionals, the fact that it can differ from person to person makes the topic of sadness, whether healthy or unhealthy, a complex one. Both healthy and unhealthy sadness can affect productivity and attitude. A better understanding of sadness, through the help of professionals or even simply a supportive workplace community, can positively impact the workplace and keep productivity high.

Kole Rodrigues ’19

What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to make sure an individual is sustaining a healthy self?

There are key steps to take when ensuring someone is sustaining a healthy self. These steps include listening skills, recognizing key signs of an unhealthy self, such as sadness and loss of interest in activities, and setting goals. I would conclude that recognizing and following these steps would help others sustain a healthy self. In the same way, a failure to see the signs that an individual is not sustaining a healthy self is also very important. If we recognize these signs, we will be able to provide the help needed for these individuals. Through these steps, we can do our best to make sure individuals are sustaining a healthy self.

Christian Tassinari ’19

How does anxiety immobilize a person?

The topic of my paper was “Anxiety disorders and how they affect a person day to day”. My findings were that anxiety can be extremely immobilizing especially in a professional setting. Many people don’t understand anxiety and for that reason aren’t always very sympathetic. Since anxiety can be classified as more of a mental condition, people often downplay the severity of it. For future implications, the more people learn about anxiety, the more people are going to accept it. As people begin to accept it and stop treating people who deal with it differently, it is likely that people who experience workplace anxiety will feel more supported and less stressed.

Erin Tiger, athletics and recreation staff

In what ways is suicide justifiable?

Research suggests that, although not everyone agrees, there are justifiable reasons as to why an individual will commit suicide. There are three key points. First, individuals are tired of suffering from physical illnesses that make life unbearable. Second, is unconquerable depression that is unchanged by any intervention. Third is the belief by an individual that they have done all the things in life they wanted, and are now ready to die in peace before their conditions worsened. While there are many people who reject these reasons, there are also many people who believe, in some instances, suicide is completely justifiable. In order for the stigma of suicide to change, as well as suicide because of preventable reasons (bullying, harassment, etc.), people need to talk about it. Education is key for people to better understand suicide.

Amy Trout ’19

What distinguishes an approach to self-care that is authentically healthy from one that may be counterproductive?

There are four important elements of disciplined self-care which are essential to a healthy love for oneself. First, a person must understand what is important to them, and try not to compromise it in favor of things they value less. Second, it’s important to maintain one’s physical health, because it influences mental health. Third, taking breaks when working on tasks, even if the breaks only last a minute or two, is important for maintaining energy and productivity. Finally, self-care must be a consistent and daily activity, in order to allow for a sense of balance in one’s life and reduce the risk of burnout. The implementation of disciplined self-care among the employed population would likely help to reduce the weight of work-related stress, maintain productivity with less burnout, and increase employees’ sense of fulfillment in their lives.

Nick Zambelli ’19

What does it mean to have an addictive personality?

There is not one single definition of an addictive personality as there are many different personality traits or actions associated with it. The key to understanding an addictive personality is the inability to control impulses, which can stem from things like extreme temperament or a feeling of isolation. In the future, I believe that a better understanding of what causes an addictive personality will lead to more understanding and compassion around addiction. Society will be better equipped to help those with an addictive personality, and potentially harness positive outcomes from addictions.


This year’s class is distinguished for their openness, thoughtful introspection, and commitment to taking on sensitive, personal issues that are so relevant to their peers. I am very proud of their papers, and the opportunity to work and learn with them.

Their work demonstrates a keen competency in going beyond the headlines and the sensational aspects of important topics to develop a deeper understanding and gain astute insights. I also want to acknowledge students, Melanie Gutierrez and Madison Johnson, for their excellent work in editing and formatting the submissions.

—Santo D. Marabella, professor of management