Augustana Raises Awareness on Mental Health

A+box+for+Augie+Students+to+drop+off+their+cards+on+October+11th%2C+2019.

A box for Augie Students to drop off their cards on October 11th, 2019.

Dina Marin

Augustana National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) organized different events to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, commemorated nationwide from Oct. 6-12.

“Mental Health Week is all about bringing the topic of mental health to the forefront of the conversation,” Co-Lead Advocate for The Gray Matters Collective, junior Kayla Dillon, said.  “It is about acknowledging those who live with mild to severe forms of mental disorders and providing them with immense support”.

The events in honor of Mental Health Week included talks, activities like stress ball making, a movie showing of Inside Out and a suicide remembrance candlelight vigil. Many other organizations on campus also collaborated and held related events regarding mental health.

“Mental Health Week is important to our community because we all have experience with mental disorders whether we have personally been affected by them or know somebody who has,” Dillon said.

Director of Student Well-being and Resilience, Farrah Roberts, said that the purpose of mental health week is to “normalize the idea of talking about mental health and removing that embarrassment, or the stigma, attached to it that something is wrong with you.”

Roberts said the student organizations behind Mental Health Week are trying to emphasize the comparison to mental health that if a person was sick and went to the doctor, no one would question it. If a person is struggling with a mental issue, they should be able to seek help.

When talking about the resources available for students at Augustana, Roberts said the mission is to help the students feel supported and be aware of support on campus.

In regard to the Student Organizations that raise awareness of Mental Health at Augustana, Dillon said, “The Gray Matters and NAMI are important because they remind students, faculty, and staff that their mental health experiences are real and important to talk about.”

“There is this awful stigma around being on the spectrum of various mental disorders. Both groups also work to provide resources and community support to the Augustana community that could help individuals with their mental health experiences,” Dillon said.

“Collectively as Augustana community members, we need to think about what are the students doing. We have these great movements like NAMI, Gray Matters, Active Minds, but sometimes it’s a challenge to get people involved,” Co-Lead Advocate for The Gray Matters Collective, Senior Haley DeGreve, said

“It doesn’t just boil down to administration, it comes down to our professors getting involved. Are they having these conversations in their classes? Are students initiating those conversations?” DeGreve said.

“It’s great to see all the awareness happening this week but this is something that shouldn’t just happen this week, it should be every day,” Degreve said. “We need to bring that to our everyday lives and to other people because we really don’t know who is struggling. If we can play a role in giving them hope or helping them heal, we can at least know we are doing our job.”