The Graduate Student Council, Student Government Association and Active Minds, a mental health awareness nonprofit, held a forum Tuesday to advise students on how to address mental health problems and learn what resources are available to them.
Active Minds President Macy Faust said she wanted to help organize the event to show students they have support systems through their peers and staff.
“We wanted to get good connections between the students and professionals where they’re not on the clock,” Faust said. “From my observation, a lot of the mental programs were staff-led and planned. And that is great. We definitely need more mentoring programs across the board. We really wanted to do something for students to be able to lead it and while we had staff here, it was the students asking the questions.”
The panel addressed issues such as how to recognize negative mental health patterns or conditions. Kimberly King, the clinical assistant professor and director for the Counseling and Human Development Center, touched on that topic.
“I often look at it as that student who may be just existing,” King said. “So their quality of life is really poor. With positive mental health, you’re not just existing, you’re actually enjoying life.”
Panel member Rachita Sharma, who serves as the Senior Lecturer and Clinical Coordinator for the UNT WELL Clinic, also discussed the importance of downtime for students who may feel overwhelmed by their workload.
“It’s okay to not do something every now and then without feeling guilty about it,” Sharma said. “It’s important if you are giving yourself 30 minutes to an hour to just do nothing. If you spend that hour thinking, ‘I should be studying for that test,’ then you’re not allowing yourself to get the downtime your brain needs to be able to process everything.”
The panel also gave specific resources students could use, such as Therapy Assisted Online, Individual Adult Counseling, Family Counseling and Career Counseling offered by the Counseling and Human Development Center and reaching out to the ODA for mental health accommodations.
“Even if you don’t know what you need, just reaching out and saying, ‘I need help’ gives us something so that we know you need help,” ODA Assistant Director Jessica Stone said. “We’ll help you figure out what is right and connect you with all the different resources within the community or with any staff member on campus.”
The event also allowed students to ask panel members questions about anything regarding mental health. Education freshman Tiffany Tran asked the panel questions about depression and said she would consider implementing some of the things she learned from the forum when addressing her mental health.
“I think it’s interesting to see and hear people talk about mental health,” Tran said. “[I learned] more about self-care and different resources, like the online counseling service, and when I asked about the differences between stress and depression.”
Graduate Student Council President Tiffany Miller said the organizations want to hold similar forums in the future to continue providing students with opportunities to address mental health.
“It can be hard for students to feel like we can engage when we’re not taking part in the organizational structure,” Miller said. “A big part of accessibility is just knowing there are real humans you can talk to and have an idea of who is in charge of what. I want to see this repeated in the fall, repeated next spring and to keep making it better.”
Featured Image: The Graduate Student Council, Student Government Association and Active Minds held a forum on mental health on Feb. 25, 2020. Image by Quincy Palmer