SGA and Chi Sigma Iota to Bring Awareness to Mental Health
By Samantha Phillips
Student Government Association’s Mental Health Advocacy training event will teach students how to identify and manage mental illnesses, recognize warning signs and prevent suicide on Friday.
The event, organized in coordination with counseling honors society Chi Sigma Iota, will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room. Students are welcome to stop by between classes and stay for as long as they are able. Those who wish to stay for the free lunch at 11 a.m. must register in advance.
The event will be divided into three sections. The first section features a panel comprised of Jerrilyn Guy and Jennifer Outland, the primary organizers of the event, and SGA President Ashley Orr discussing mental health and outlining current facts and figures.
Topics will include suicide, self-harm, PTSD and mood, anxiety, bipolar and eating disorders. They will close the session with information about self-care and managing mental illness.
Orr said she saw a correlation between a message she heard at the Fear of Islam panel discussion last week and the topic of mental illness.
“One of the speakers had said …’whenever we talk about what it is we fear, that fear goes away.’ I think sometimes it’s not only true with fear, but also with stigma,” Orr said. “By talking about it, we’re going to reduce fear associated with it and hopefully reduce the stigma.”
She said they want to provide information so students can identify and manage mental illness in themselves because understanding illnesses empowers people to manage them.
“Internally checking on yourself is really important,” Orr said. “Once we understand how we are feeling, we can do things we love and are passionate about.”
Guy said there are many things you can do to care for yourself, even if it’s just taking the time to hang out with friends and do things you care about.
“A lot of people I have talked to their self care is going to the gym. My self care is meditating or adult coloring books,” Guy said. “Even just taking time out of your day to hang out with friends, and do things you care about,” Guy said.
Stephanie Fellenger, a Mercy Health contract therapist, will speak during the second session on suicide prevention. Orr said this will equip faculty and staff with resources they can pass along to students.
“They’ll talk about local and national resources, like hotlines you can call when you’re really stressed,” Orr said.
Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel will introduce the third session, featuring keynote speakers Paul and Darcy Granello. They are licensed professional clinical counselors, who research suicide prevention describing themselves as “suicidologists.” Orr said they will touch on topics including suicide in males, who are less likely to seek treatment for mental illness.
“I’m really excited to welcome a male voice to this conversation, and to encourage all students — regardless of their gender — to take care of themselves,” Orr said.
Ann Jaronski, the university’s new counseling director, and Anne Lally, university mental health counselor, will also speak about resources students can access to help manage their mental health.
Guy noted that there are many resources on campus, including the counseling office in Jones Hall and the Community Counseling Clinic in the Beeghly College of Education.
Guy said hiring a new counseling director marks progress in what she views as lack of mental health advocacy at the university.
“It’s getting better,” she said. “I do think there is a stigma, but I also feel like college is a space where students can be themselves, unlike high school really, so I think it’s talked about a lot more on college campuses.”
Orr praised Guy and Outland for their leadership skills in creating and organizing the event. Guy said they are excited to see how it turns out.
“I’m just really excited to educate the campus community,” Guy said. “Right now we have 150 people registered, so it’s going to be huge.”