On-campus groups dedicated to mental health awareness

On-campus groups dedicated to mental health awareness

One in four college students have a mental health disorder, but UNA’s Active Minds and Student Counseling services provide students with outlets and services to promote positive mental health.

Active Minds is a nonprofit based Registered Student Organization dedicated to educating and advocating for those affected by mental illness. It is a nationwide organization that helps to increase awareness of college students with mental illness and take away the stigmas that surround mental illness.

“We partner with Student Counseling Services to ensure that students in need receive care,” said Annie Park, secretary of Active Minds.

Active Minds is open to all students and meets every second and fourth Monday at 3:30 p.m. in the upper Stone Lodge.

“We do have fundraisers throughout the year, and we put on all kinds of events to increase awareness,” Parks said.

They also plan inspirational events, such as “Active Minds, Active Hearts,” an event where members hand out candy and compliments in small goody bags on Valentine’s Day.

Parks said Active Minds hopes to host Send Silence Packing again this spring.

“Many students are experiencing stress, anxiety and depression but are not talking about these issues and feel isolated,” said Maize Snider, vice president of Active Minds. “By raising mental health awareness, we can help students know that they are not alone.”

This is a national Active Minds event, which displays the suicide statistic for college students by lining up backpacks along sidewalks, each backpack representing a student who died by suicide.

“I think it is important to have campus groups devoted to mental health awareness because students need to know that there are people they can talk to about issues,” said senior Kate Singley.

Active Minds does not do therapy for students in need, but refers students who are in crisis to either Student Counseling Services or the suicide hotline.

“It is very important for students to be educated on mental health awareness, and that is one thing that Student Counseling Services tries to do,” said Jennifer Berry, licensed professional counselor.

Student Counseling Services delivers mental health awareness presentations or training sessions on-campus in classes to educate students on the importance of paying attention to signs of mental health distress.

“I think it is important for all students to be aware and realize the importance of mental health and to be able to reach out to friends who may be struggling,” Singley said.

Students can schedule appointments by calling 256-765-5215 or visiting the office. Student Counseling Services offers support services for students to develop coping skills to manage problems that may threaten their health, well-being or academic performance.

Students who are actively enrolled in classes and have paid the student health fee for the current semester may utilize services.

Counselors are available for assessment of needs or problems, short-term counseling, group presentations, crisis intervention and facilitation of referrals for students.

Student Counseling Services offers an online mental health screening test that can be found on UNA’s website. This program is completely anonymous and confidential, and immediately following the brief questionnaire students will see results, recommendations and key resources.