At this point in the semester, many students worry about midterms, Q-drops and scholarship applications. To help, the Counseling and Mental Health Center is hosting their fourth annual Mental Health Promotion Week through Friday to encourage students to focus on self-care, mindfulness and inclusion.
While the program includes yoga, meditation and destressing activities, the center hosted an interactive discussion on reducing shame and stigma around mental health Tuesday.
“We really want to be able to address stigma, because we see that it’s being a big barrier to students being able to access help,” Michelle Emery, suicide prevention coordinator, said. “So, the more we can talk about it, the easier the conversation comes, and then the more likely people are able to actually reach out for help if they need it.”
During the discussion, students talked about everyday things someone can do to overcome mental health stigma. They also addressed the cycle of how stereotypes become prejudice, discrimination and then aggression.
“It was really helpful to learn about the difference between what we should say about stereotypes and prejudice and determination of action, because oftentimes the definition is still a bit nuanced,” neuroscience junior Celine Morshed said. “It was good to put in our own perspectives into how these terms are involved in mental health.”
Harold Jackson, president of the black LGBTQ organization Black, Queer, and Here, said he was glad he attended this event because mental health stigma is a big concern in the black LGBTQ community.
“Black LGBT people face a whole lot of stigma around mental health, because it’s kind of the intersection of all these different identities that have underlying assumptions that are negative about mental health,” computer science senior Jackson said.
Jackson also said he hopes to see the promotion week grow and have more involvement from the campus community.
“Maybe there needs to be something a bit bigger and structural, like a year-round program that helps students and their mental health promotion,” Jackson said. “And there’s definitely a need to have a bigger conversation with professors, employers and student organizations.”
However, Emery said the promotion week has been attracting more attention every year.
“From what I’ve heard, the student involvement in these weeks has grown each year,” Emery said. “What’s really amazing is seeing how many students are really invested in these events, not only attending one but being part of creating and shaping them.”