A panel discussion with Counseling and Psychological Services leaders and Angela Dillard, associate dean of undergraduate education, stressed the University of Michigan’s commitment to providing students with mental health support to cap off the end of the first campus Mental Health Day Monday.
LSA sophomore Nicholas Meier, an LSA student government member, spearheaded the day-long event along with LSA junior Nicholas Fadanelli, a fellow LSA SG member. Meier and Fadanelli said they started Mental Health Day to bring to light various mental health resources available to University students.
“We saw that there’s a lot of opportunity for collaboration across campus with mental health groups; we feel like it’s a big issue,” Meier said. “This idea came up from a meeting we had last year, like how can we get more people to know about the mental health issues on campus.”
The day’s events also aimed to inform the community about mental health awareness initiatives that CAPS and LSA are currently working on.
At Monday evening’s event, the panelists highlighted different services already available to those struggling with mental illness, such as individual therapy, group therapy and crisis walk-in sessions, as well as a Wellness Zone that has light therapy machines and meditation areas, from CAPS. CAPS also conducts workshops to combat stress and time management.
Christina Asiado, CAPS associate director of community engagement and outreach, said one of the best ways to improve mental health is through communication. CAPS recently held an event on the Diag which aimed to spread messages of hope to help those struggling with feelings of hopelessness or depression.
“I want to make sure that we are definitely having a dialogue about mental health, so coming to events like this is really, really important,” Asiado said during the town hall. “Part of it is about increasing awareness, decreasing stigma, educating others in terms of ‘how do you help yourself, how do you help a friend.’ ”
CAPs representatives also noted several changes in their services. Last year, the CAPS After Hours program launched on campus, in which on-call licensed therapists talk with and listen to students when CAPS offices are closed. As a move to increase the availability of this resource, the number of the After Hours program has been placed on the back of all University of Michigan Mcards.
Though most information about CAPS can be found online, CAPS Director Todd Sevig told the audience that the number one reason people discover and go to CAPS is because a friend told them about their resources. For this reason, CAPS emphasizes community education, specifically to students, professors and GSIs.
“Don’t spend so much time thinking about ‘Do I need professional help, do I not need it,’ ” Sevig said as words of encouragement. “Just give us a call, and sometimes talking it out then will open up new roads to help adjust whatever the student’s wanting to.”