This September, Take time to prioritize your Mental Health

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Two campaigns regarding mental health are held annually in September: National Recovery Month and National Suicide Prevention Week.  

These campaigns are held to raise awareness about mental health and substance abuse. The coronavirus has caused many people to deal with uncertainty in their lives, which is why it is more important than ever to address these topics. The University of Connecticut has many resources available for students that are in need of additional guidance and support.  

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The entire month of September is designated as National Recovery Month and is a time to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders while also celebrating those who are in recovery. 

The UConn Recovery Community (URC) is one of the resources available to UConn students. The mission of the URC is to allow students to achieve academic success while experiencing college free from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. 

The stigmas surrounding mental health and substance abuse can have harmful effects on people who are in the process of recovering, and the URC provides students with the opportunity to join a judgement free community of fellow students in recovery. 

“The URC provides committed resources to offer recovery support services, peer social connection and education designed to grow recovery allies across our campus,” Sandy Valentine, Health Promotion Manager and URC Lead, said.  

Valentine and her team connect with students in recovery and the friends and family members of those with substance abuse disorders.  

“When someone is ready to seek help, we want to make sure there is an ally available who will connect them to resources and support them as they begin their recovery journey,” Valentine said. 

“When someone is ready to seek help, we want to make sure there is an ally available who will connect them to resources and support them as they begin their recovery journey.”

Substance abuse recovery is often a misunderstood topic. Valentine wants people to realize that recovery is a much longer and more detailed journey than one may think.  

“Students have incredible stories to share, and it is a gift when they share them with me,” Valentine said.  

The URC has adapted to the campus restrictions placed on in-person events due to COVID-19 by transitioning most of their programs online. Recovery Storytelling Workshops and Recovery Ally Training are just a few of the events that the URC offers.  

Even if you are not someone who has struggled with substance abuse, attending some of these events will allow you to learn how to be an ally for the close to 20 million Americans over the age of 12 who struggle with substance abuse disorders.  

Being open to talking about difficult topics is the first step in making a difference in your own life and the lives of those around you. Not only is this an important aspect of National Recovery Month, but it is also a pillar of National Suicide Prevention Week. 

National Suicide Prevention Week took place last week and is a yearly campaign that is held to better inform the public about suicide prevention by teaching people the warning signs of suicide and what to do if you or someone you know is struggling.  

The Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) center is committed to providing a holistic and collaborative mental health model of care. Many students find the transition to college very stressful and anxiety-provoking, especially now in the virtual setting, which is why SHaW is continuing to provide mental health services through telehealth and phone platforms.  

Health professionals and mental health advocates hope that by bringing important issues like this into the national conversation, the stigma surrounding suicide and seeking help for mental illnesses will be diminished and people will learn that you do not need to be a professional to make a difference. 

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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2018, and more than 48,000 Americans died from suicide during that year.  

Through increased awareness and education regarding this topic, those who struggle with suicidal thoughts will feel more supported and understood by their surrounding communities.  

The National Institute of Mental Health recommends asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal or have suicidal thoughts. Though it may seem simple, this question can help keep people safe and all them the opportunity to be open about their struggles.  

Being an active listener and checking in on your friends and family is a simple way to make a big difference in someone’s life.  

Being an active listener and checking in on your friends and family is a simple way to make a big difference in someone’s life.  

Although National Recovery Month and National Suicide Prevention Week only take place in September, it is important to prioritize your mental health on a daily basis by continuing to educate yourself and members of your community.  

Visit the UConn Recovery Community website for more information on upcoming events and available resources.  

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