USG, Sustained Dialogue promote mental health
The project, according to the USG website, is an effort to “raise awareness of healthy mental practices in and out of the classroom.”
USG President Bruce Easop ’13 said mental health became a focus of his administration following conversations with groups such as Sustained Dialogue and after analyzing the results of the COMBO III survey, which were released in December. The COMBO III survey included questions about stress and happiness.
The survey revealed that 35.3 percent of students admitted having mental health challenges they did not experience before coming to the University.
“The statistics we received [in COMBO III] showed that this was something the student government should take an interest in,” Easop noted.
Former president of Sustained Dialogue Jess Brooks ’13, who has worked with Easop since November to plan the week, said in an email that co-hosting the event fits with their mission of fostering a campus dialogue about identity issues.
“One identity factor which deserves significantly more awareness and dialogue is that of mental wellness: So many students feel overwhelmed, but in our experiences, students are rarely comfortable discussing mental health problems,” she explained.
Easop said his goal for Mental Health Awareness Week is to “not only let students know that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with mental health issues but also to know that there are resources that you can reach out to ... and there are ways to be proactive about promoting your mental health.”
U-Councilor Katlin Poladian ’12, who has been involved in the project, shared Easop’s goal. She said in an email that the USG sought to “destigmatize” using campus mental health resources.
Easop highlighted Thursday’s lecture by Dr. Mehmet Oz, better known as television celebrity Dr. Oz, and Friday’s “Be a Helpful Friend” event as the events he looks forward to most. At Friday’s event, Counseling and Psychological Services counselors will train students on how to talk about mental health issues with friends.
Easop also expressed enthusiasm about Dr. Oz’ visit. “We’re excited and honored that he can come to campus and also give the issue a little celebrity.” Oz, a Columbia University professor, was a regular guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and now has his own network show.
Easop noted that he is pleased with the resources CPS currently provides.
“I think we do have some very strong resources through CPS, but I think one of the ways we can improve what we have currently is to make sure students are able to access that information,” he said, adding that greater access is one of the goals of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Poladian specifically noted that the USG has worked with the Office of Religious Life and the McGraw Center to strengthen their programming.
“Because of this pervasive interest to make mental health issues — or serious amounts of stress — something that is OK to talk about, we wanted to coordinate with these groups to spread awareness of the resources on campus,” she said.
Easop said the USG will continue to address mental health after the week’s conclusion and is planning future projects with CPS, such as strengthening liaison relationships with the residential colleges.
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