National Alliance on Mental Illness creates new resource for students

A new series of infographics was created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in January for students with concerns for their own mental health as well as those who would like to help a friend.

The graphics include data and information about how students can assess both their own and their friends’ mental health, along with suggestions about how to reach out for help. The titles of the three infographics are “Getting the Right Start,” “Taking Charge of Your Mental Health” and “How to Help a Friend.” 

Dr. Elizabeth J. Cracco, Director of Counseling and Mental Health Services and Interim Director of Student Health Services at the University of Connecticut, said that the infographics will be brought to the Suicide Prevention Committee in order to discuss the most effective use and distribution of the NAMI resources.

“Many of [NAMI’s] facts and resources are part of the mental health messaging and prevention work we’ve been doing for many years at Counseling and Mental Health Services and with campus wide events such as Suicide Prevention Week, QPR suicide prevention training and Fresh Check Day,” Cracco said. “Having these resources that are nationally distributed hopefully works toward that common goal of increasing knowledge and awareness of the significant impact that mental health has on our college population.”

The infographics provide a list of 10 “common warning signs” of someone experiencing mental illness, as well as steps to speaking up about mental health concerns, making a first appointment to acknowledge the condition and offering support to peers who are experiencing mental health conditions.

“I think the graphics are very helpful,” said Emily Orkins, sixth-semester Secondary English Education major. Orkins said that mental health is especially important in the fast-paced environment of college life, and the NAMI graphics provide valuable information regarding how to handle mental illness.

“[The NAMI information] is presented in a straightforward way that can provide clarity should I feel something is not right in myself or someone else,” Orkins said. She also commended CMHS as a great resource on campus. “The people there are always willing to help; they provide you with the resources you need, from time sheets for anxieties about scheduling to coloring pages for simple stress relief. They also provide regular counseling and group therapy.”           

Cracco said that she thinks it is important for the community to be engaged in mental health issues in a variety of ways, including social connections.

“I think much like the Stall Street News, passive education can be effective in infusing campus with a mindset that is oriented to discussing these issues,” Cracco said. She also supports a following of the Jed Model, which offers a “comprehensive approach to mental health promotion.”

The Jed Model includes: developing life skills, promoting social connectedness, identifying students at risk, increasing help-seeking behavior, providing mental health services, following crisis management procedures and restricting access to potential lethal means.

“As highlighted in the resources, [mental illness] impacts a significant portion of our community, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in this age group,” Cracco said. “We need to continuously re-tool our approaches given the very high costs of mental illness for individuals, families and communities.”


Megan Krementowski is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at megan.krementowski@uconn.edu.