As mental health issues continue to move into the national forefront, a University of Wisconsin student government committee announced Wednesday it will work to promote the awareness of such issues this semester.
The Associated Students of Madison University Affairs Committee mapped out its spring semester goals, focusing on organizing an ongoing emphasis on sets of activities to help the UW community better understand mental health promotion.
Kayla Van Cleave, a committee member and former intern who planned last semester’s Mental Health Fair, said the focus has shifted from a single event to this sort of movement to better instill mental health education in students and faculty.
“That event was really good to raise awareness around [mental health], but now we’re looking more to a movement, whether that be a quarterly event or a week-long movement like the diversity week and coupling it with the All-Campus Party,” she said. “The way that the Mental Health Coalition is moving now is very event-based, and what Becca and I stressed during our meeting with them is were not really an event throwing organization.”
University Affairs Chair Becca Buell noted University Health Services is pushing its Red Folder campaign on professors to give them tools for recognizing warning signs that students are overstressed and help these professors stay relatively stress-free themselves.
In response to a UHS list serve notification regarding group counseling, Buell said she is excited to see newest mental health initiatives.
“I think it really show how the priorities here on campus are also being prioritized in other places,” she said. “That’s a really strong statement that the nation in general and our state thinks it a big issue.”
Committee Member Taylor Toth proposed sending out a memo to professors asking them to begin their next class with an announcement or lecture slide reminding students they are resources for helping students through difficult emotional times.
Van Cleave said she thinks campus outreach through UW Housing and the Residence Halls could be extremely effective. The objective is to establish good habits for students their freshman year so they can maintain and build on their strong mental well-being throughout college and life, she added.
The fact that many people on campus consider mental health a problem is detrimental to promoting awareness of those sorts of issues, according to Van Cleave.
“The whole problem with mental health right now is that it’s seen as something that’s stigmatized,” she said.