Mastering Mental Health: Students host mental health first aid training

“If anxiety has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not alone. There are others out there who share my desire to sucker punch our anxiety so it knows it doesn’t control us.”

This quote was posted on the Shake the Stigma Facebook page as part of the Truman Speaks Out event, one of the many events that happened during Shake the Stigma Week April 11-16.

Seniors Katie Larabee, Dominique Boesch, Laura Kim and Jenny Lowe says they decided to do their senior capstone project about mental health and spearheaded this week for the first time ever on Truman State’s campus.

The week started with a Treat Yo Self kickoff event on The Quad with performances by Truman a capella groups Minor Detail and Sweet Nothings. Joe Hamilton, assistant director of University Counseling Services, spoke about combatting mental health stigmas. Another event was a showing of “Inside Out,” as well as  screenings for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in the Student Union Building. Other events included Yoga on The Quad and two sessions of mental health first aid training, a tutorial for students to learn how to approach and help people with mental health disorders.

Larabee says while only 20 Truman students were allowed to go to the training because of limited resources, more than 75 reached out and asked to take the class. Larabee says this shows how important mental health is to Truman students. Larabee says while doing research for the project, she discovered not only are people interested in taking mental health training classes but there is also a desire from students to seek assistance for their mental disorders.

“UCS is under represented,” Larabee says. “I have recently learned they have over 600 clients, and they’re only staffed enough to provide services for under 600. For a while I knew people who couldn’t get in for three-plus weeks. To accept the fact you want to get help for your problem and when you’re told you have to wait a month or so that’s hard, especially if it’s an emergency.”

Lou Ann Gilchrist, vice president of Student Affairs, taught the mental health first aid training. Gilchrist says she has a background in mental health because she used to be the UCS director and taught counseling at Truman before that, which made her qualified to teach the class.

Gilchrist says the class especially benefited college students. She says some mental illnesses and symptoms do not appear until late teens to early adulthood. This could cause confusion for students who might not understand what is happening.

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