October 9, 2018
During Mental Health Awareness Week, Oct. 7 to 13, the University will spotlight mental health issues with Take a Mental Health Day on Wednesday, Oct. 10. The annual event provides several opportunities for students to learn more about helping themselves and others by opening a dialogue about mental health and de-stigmatizing the subject.
This year’s mental health awareness day offers afternoon programs in Sykes Student Union ballrooms and an evening event in Asplundh Concert Hall, Philips Memorial Building. All sessions are free.
“The purpose of the event is to increase awareness and open a dialogue about mental health,” says organizer Amanda Blue, College of Health Sciences outreach manager. “Many students struggle and feel alone. There is a great deal of stigma associated with mental health issues, so students often don’t discuss it or seek help. A common student response to the event is that they had no idea it was so prevalent, and that with greater understanding, we are all able to be of more help to each other.”
First is a 12 p.m. screening of the documentary It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health, featuring six college students from across the country who reveal their struggles with depression and other mental health conditions to help viewers realize how commonly young adults experience these issues. An open discussion with facilitators follows the film.
The interactive presentation “Just Talk About It” -- Minding Your Mind takes place in Sykes from 2 to 3 p.m. Counselor Jenna DiLossi will talk about how to recognize the warning signs of stress, anxiety, depression, and crisis. She will guide a discussion on ways to assist others to cultivate positive coping skills and the ability to ask for help. In addition, a WCU alumna will share her personal story of mental health struggle in college.
Those looking for relaxation can visit the Mather Planetarium (behind Schmucker Link) by 2:15 p.m. (doors close at 2:30) for an hour-long mindfulness practice hosted by the Center for Contemplative Studies. Learn about celestial events in the fall sky and bring awareness of the beauty in your life by just looking up.
WCU’s therapy dogs will be at Sykes in the afternoon. Additionally, representatives from resources including the WCU Counseling Center, the Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force, and others will be on hand to talk and distribute literature.
Concluding the day is the feature-length documentary film Suicide: The Ripple Effect, which will be shown from 6 to 8 p.m. in Asplundh Concert Hall, Philips Memorial Building. The film focuses on the damaging effects of suicide by highlighting survivor Kevin Hines who, at age 19, jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge.
The University provides other events every year to bring awareness to mental health issues and offers students multiple resources, among them:
The Counseling Center (Department of Counseling & Psychological Services) offers short-term counseling; a clinical case manager can assist with off-campus services. The center’s online service for WCU students, wcu.caresforyou.org, helps students recognize how stress, depression, anxiety, and other problems might be affecting them. It is confidential, free, and students can remain anonymous.
Students must be referred by the Counseling Center to WCU Community Mental Health Services (CMHS), which provides psychological services and specializes in trauma-related disorders and child & adolescent mental health.
The College of Health Sciences offers Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour, evidence-based public education program designed to teach anyone how to identify risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns or crises and to respond with a practical action plan. Participants receive a comprehensive 138-page manual and certification as a “Mental Health First Aider” that is renewable every three years.
Also, the Center for Contemplative Studies offers meditation sessions, yoga, and other mindfulness and stress-busting activities with daily free programs open to the whole campus.