The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government and Mental Health Connecticut will be teaming up later this month to hold a Mental Health First Aid class, said Derek Pan, USG Student Services Committee chair.
Pan said that the class is already full at its capacity of 30 students, which happened within the first 48 hours of launching the event.
The class will be taking place on Sept. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in ITE 119, according to an email sent out by Student Services.
The course is designed give students the ability to recognize the signs of mental health struggles in their peers, reach out in an effective manner and encourage the student to seek professional aid, the email said. Valerie English Cooper will be teaching the course.
Cooper is a community educator and nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor at Mental Health Connecticut, Inc., according to her LinkedIn profile.
Pan said that USG plans to host more classes in the near future.
“I’ve had overwhelming responses of people who are interested,” Pan said. “I’m hoping to add one more class at least this semester.”
Pan said he hopes that the class will improve the informal peer support network on campus, which he believes is the most effective route to use when dealing with mental health issues.
“We as students can identify more with the struggles of other students because we understand exactly what they’re going through,” Pan said. “We can help them at a more personal and intimate level.”
Pan said that the peer support is effective, because it allows students to eventually seek professional aid.
“They’d [students] rather use peer support groups to initially help them with their problems, and then once they do use peer support, they’re more likely to pursue professional resources,” Pan said.
Pan also hopes to conduct a survey at the end of each class regarding the effectiveness of the course and its material, as well as examine the possibility of a formal student aid organization on campus.
Third-semester psychology major Amanda Morach said that the training will be extremely beneficial on campus.
“Mental health issues can be difficult to detect and this course is a great opportunity for students to learn how to help the people that they surround themselves with every day,” Morach said.
The class will be taking place on the weekend before UConn Suicide Prevention Week.
“It’s a great opportunity to kick off the conversation about mental health,” Pan said.
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.