On Saturday, student organizations dedicated to mental health came together to create a uniform approach to addressing these issues at the University.
Central Student Government paired with Counseling and Psychological Services to host the University’s first mental health summit. The outlined goal for the summit was to inspire cooperation between the leaders of different student organizations focusing on mental health across campus. About 10 of these organizations were represented at the meeting.
CAPS director Todd Sevig said important progress has been made toward improving the mental health climate on campus in the last couple of years, and this change has been, in part, spearheaded by student organizations pushing for the expansion of University resources for wellness. CSG President Cooper Charlton, an LSA senior, said these efforts could benefit from being more collaborative.
“I think we all are doing a lot of phenomenal things on campus, but often times we’re very busy and aren’t on the same page,” Charlton said. “This is kind of a flag in the ground to bring a lot of strong leaders together around mental health and understand what everyone else’s vision and goals are, and find ways that we can empower each other.”
Participants sat at round tables with a CSG and CAPS member present to interact with students and faculty members at each of the roughly 10 tables. The CSG member facilitated the talks, during which student organization representatives shared the vision and goals of their respective clubs.
LSA freshman Shelby Steverson, a member of CAPS in Action, a new club created to promote CAPS over social media, said she enjoyed the discussions she had at the event.
“I really love hearing everyone else’s ideas for how we can improve mental health on campus and how we can reduce that stigma and show people that you can get help no matter what is going on,” Steverson said.
The CSG facilitator posed questions on topics such as funding needs, their organization’s current initiatives the organizations and each participant’s individual goals for the summit.
Information senior Sonia Doshi, president of the Healthy Minds Coalition, said she feels the increasing number of mental health organizations on campus has caused a “diffusion of advocacy” among groups.
“I’m interested in figuring out ways that we can share ideas and get together more often so that we know what’s going on on campus and then create a bigger impact,” Doshi said.
After sharing the various goals and plans of the organizations present, each table brainstormed ways their clubs could work together to make a tangible impact on campus.
Sevig said he came up with the idea to host the summit two years ago after various groups organizing around mental health expressed interest in creating a collaborative effort to change the stigma surrounding mental health on campus.
“We thought how cool this is to have multiple different student groups coming from different energy points, contribute to a campus-wide approach to mental health,” Sevig said.
LSA sophomore Anushka Sarkar, chief programming officer in CSG, led the planning for the summit. Sarkar said she worked to identify leaders in mental health issues on campus and then reached out to them about attending the summit.
Sarkar said she wanted to focus on promoting tangible action.
“There is this trend of anecdotal discussion where we have a great conversation but then nothing comes out of it,” she said. “I think the time for discussion, and only discussion, has passed. We’ve been having these conversations over and over, so what are we going to do about it?”