University of Wisconsin’s student government is looking to work in conjunction with University Health Services to spread awareness on mental health issues and resources and improve mental health organizations on campus.
According to University Affairs Committee Chair Becca Buell, Associated Students of Madison hopes to help UHS Director of Counseling and Consultation Services Dr. Danielle Oakley on a campuswide mental health campaign in order to educate students on the resources available.
Buell said the new campaign to improve student knowlegde was prompted by a student mental health grant UHS received earlier in September. The campaign aims to focus on three main goals.
These three goals, according to Buell, include the possibility of a mental health awareness day, the creation of a promotional video to raise awareness of mental health resources on campus and the institutionalizing of the various groups working on these UHS initiatives.
Buell said she hopes ASM will be able to help UHS plan and host a mental health awareness day for UW students if a date can be agreed upon.
“It would be hard for ASM to [create the event] by itself, because we aren’t experts in the topic, but we can host the event and bring in the resources to help it be successful,” Buell said.
Buell added ASM could help make the mental health awareness day, if planned, better through marketing, promotion and the addition of a student voice and perspective.
In her discussion with Oakley, Buell said Oakley also mentioned she wants to create a promotional video on the topic of good mental health, which will include specific information on the campus mental health organizations and resources they can use.
ASM spokesperson David Gardner suggested ASM could assist UHS with the creation of this video by allowing UW students with expertise in that area to get involved.
According to Gardner, the inclusion of UW student interns could help with the making of the video, adding the process would be valuable experience, especially for interns interested in working with video promotions.
Buell said the current vision for the video is to include 15- to 20-second testimonies from UW faculty and students to encourage students to use the mental health resources UHS and UW provide.
According to Buell, the final goal of institutionalizing the UHS groups and committees involved with this mental health initiative is important for the future of the campaign.
“[This institutionalization] makes sure in case ASM leadership changes, or if ASM decides this is too much work, we can ensure that [our work] will be continued in the future when we are not around,” Buell said.
Buell added UHS is focusing on mental health in other ways as well, in addition to partnering its nutrition specialists with Madison Fresh Market to promote the importance of a healthy diet. Teaching students to create healthy meals with healthy choices contributes to mental health substantially, Buell said.
According to Buell, these initiatives are not yet set in stone, but there will be more meetings in the near future to ensure all the options maximize their positive effects on overall mental health at UW.