Mental health organization seeking student support with online petition

Article Originally Published by Brooke Colombo on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

OUT, an organization that aims to provide students with mental health resources and peer support, recently took to Change.org in an effort to be recognized as an official UNT organization, receiving more than 200 signatures on their petition.

OUT, which stands for Observe it, Understand it, Talk about it, will consist of weekly meetings where students can discuss their mental health, learn about mental health and coping mechanisms and participate in activities and receive peer support. Becoming an official organization would give the club access to resources they would not otherwise have.

The organization was denied for its supposed similarity to already existing organizations. President Aundrea Martin started the petition because she said she believes the organization is unique and could offer valuable resources to students that existing organizations cannot.

“It is the only official peer-to-peer forum, the only weekly meeting mental health organization and the only organization that focuses heavily on discussion and venting, in addition to education and learning,” Martin said. “There’s no such thing as too many mental health organizations, similar or not. The goal is to show students mental health is important and vital to being successful in college and life in general. Every mental health [organization] will agree to that.”

Martin said she wants the club to address the difficulties some students may face in accessing counseling.

“UNT is notorious for advertising free counseling and therapy,” Martin said. “But the waitlists are months out for just one session. I’m not knocking UNT’s resources — they are necessary and helpful for many students —  but students need something in the meantime, during those hard weeks, when they are ready to give up and can’t make it the three months to their campus counseling appointment.”

OUT Vice President Tyrece Williams said he was inspired to join the club after he similarly witnessed difficulties students may face when accessing mental health care on campus, which he found disproportionally affects black students as a result of cultural barriers.

“I think OUT would serve a crucial supplementary role for students without access to any psychotherapy and further promote a culture of de-stigmatization,” Williams said. “Especially among the Black student body, issues of mental health frequently go without systems of support, leaving many vulnerable to experience a decline in well-being and functioning. Now more than ever, UNT needs to demonstrate its support of Black students.”

Social work senior Kwanna Henderson said she signed the petition and is hoping the club will become officially recognized.

“Mental health is a concept that is important to me and I believe it’s important to meet people where they are,” Henderson said. “If these meetings are the only place where even one student feels they can truly open up and seek support, I say we continue those meetings for as long as deemed necessary.”

The petition has a goal of 500 signatures to show support for the club. Martin said she believes no one knows exactly what college students are going through better than fellow college students.

“There are so many instances where students want the help, they want to talk, they want to listen and feel not alone in their situation, they want to understand what exactly it is they are going through,” Martin said. “I’ve been that student. My friends have been those students. That’s why I made OUT. We need this.”

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

Source: North Texas Daily