UConn honors World Mental Health Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week 

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UConn lays down 1100 flags in memory of the deaths of college students on the lawn by the Student Union.  Photo by Eric Wang / The Daily Campus.

UConn lays down 1100 flags in memory of the deaths of college students on the lawn by the Student Union. Photo by Eric Wang / The Daily Campus.

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. On college campuses, the significance of mental health in people’s lives is becoming more widely discussed and more resources are being offered; however, the importance of raising awareness about it is no less important. Suicidal behavior and prevention are the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day, first established on Oct. 10, 1992, by the World Federation for Mental Health. Multiple student groups and health resources on campus like are collaborating to raise awareness in honor of this day along with Mental Health Awareness Week. This follows the university’s slew of events honoring Suicide Prevention Week during the final week of September. 

“This [week and day] are super important because mental health issues are so prevalent worldwide,” Derek Pan, a seventh-semester molecular and cell biology major and the Undergraduate Student Government Student Services Committee chairperson, said. “College is definitely a breeding ground for mental health issues since it is likely the first time students are away from home for an extended period of time: Substance abuse is so common, young adults are trying to navigate relationships and interactions with peers and significant others and academic and professional pressures can really wear on students.” 

The World Federation for Mental Health is a global mental health organization that established World Mental Health Day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. On campus, organizations seek to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The USG Mental Health and Wellness Sub-Committee, part of the Student Services Committee, is hosting seven events this week in collaboration with UConn Student Health and Wellness, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and Active Minds. 

“These events are meant to spread awareness about and advocate for mental health issues, since [they are] so prevalent among young adults,” Pan said. “I think that the more conversations and awareness people have about mental health, the less stigmatizing the topic will be and the more likely people will seek treatment and help if they need it, and that’s the goal of this week.” 

A paint night was hosted in the Student Union on Monday, as was a minority health discussion on Tuesday night. Yesterday, tabling in the Student Union with the prompt “Why Care?” offered resources and free giveaways for students and preempted the event “Health & History: NAMI & the Mental Health Movement.” During the latter event, which was partnered with KIND, students wrote letters to people in recovery which will be dispersed around the state by the NAMI coordinator.  

Today, there are wreaths set up at the Student Union entrances in honor of World Mental Health Day. Following the keynote lecture “Understanding and Addressing Mental Health Disparities in College Student Populations” in the afternoon, the committee is hosting a keynote panel and Q&A, titled “College Mental Health: Equity & Allyship,” from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. The panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Amanda Waters, will feature Dr. Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Dr. Clewiston Challenger and students Kanu Caplash and Jovanni Vicenty. The discussion will focus on mental health equity on college campuses and the ways in which students, faculty and staff can practice allyship to improve the wellbeing of students. 

“The goal of this week is to bring awareness, importance and visibility to mental health around campus,” Becky Feldman, a fifth-semester civil engineering major, said. “It is often uncomfortable to begin a conversation around mental health, but the more we see it around us we hope to not only destigmatize it but help students not feel so alone in their battle. World Mental Health Day is [today], but this is a struggle students across the board are dealing with everyday.”   


Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.

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