StuGov Buzz: Mental Wellness Week

This week marks Student Government’s second annual Mental Wellness Week. The Health Wellness & Safety committee has collaborated with several groups on campus to host a variety of events designed to educate about and raise awareness of mental health on campus. It’s been an honor serving with so many other enthusiastic students.

Mental health is not an issue contained to a single week, obviously. While a packed week of educational and publicity events is useful for furthering and maintaining campus consciousness for what has become a top-priority issue on Truman’s campus in the minds of students, faculty, and administration alike. It should go without saying that it pervades the year, and moreover, requires investment by the whole campus community, including the student body.

This issue has sparked passion in the minds of many. If you fit this category, you should know that there are a number of ways to get involved in betterment for mental health on campus.

If you simply have ideas or concerns you want to share with Truman higher-ups, email Brenda Higgins, Associate Vice President for Student Health & Wellness, and ask to chat with her. I’ve worked with Brenda for two years now, and have always found her eager to respond and help students. If you want to get involved on the JED Committee’s strategic plan involving administrative and cultural change, email Professor Evonne Bird, co-chair of JED. And of course, always reach out to StuGov! The Health Wellness & Safety committee deals heavily in mental health, and we’d love to hear from you.

On the non-administrative side of things, if you want to tackle mental health in a boots-on-the-ground type of manner, consider working with Positive Peers, an organization that trains and arranges student-led mental health support groups. If you’re in Greek Life, consider contacting the Greek Mental Wellness Committee.

Improving mental health requires effort by the whole campus. This includes not only our 6,000 students, but our educators as well. Student Government is also sponsoring this year for the first time a Faculty Mental Health Honoree of the Year award, to be presented at the same ceremony as the time-honored Educator and Research Mentor of the Year awards. Our hope is that this will honor the amazing efforts on the part of so many teachers to address this issue with their students and in their classrooms, and model methods other professors may adopt.

Mental health is an all-hands-on-deck affair. Ways of having your hands on deck are varied, and naturally, some individuals will be more involved than others. And as cliché as it may be, the most important efforts to better mental health come in the everyday. Living a well-managed and balanced life to reduce stress and anxiety is more valuable than being on dozens of committees. Regularly urging your peers to take responsibility for their mental well-being is better than any poster campaign. Our campus has been specifically diagnosed as needing culture change, and our actions everyday are the fastest highway to that change.