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Davis, California

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Mental Health Initiative, Student Health and Counseling working to support students during Mental Health Awareness Month

The town hall meeting hosted by MHI on April 30 raised concerns over the usability of Health-e-Messaging and advocated for counselors who specialize in LGBTQIA+ rights, the neurodivergent community and students with disabilities

    ASUCD kicked off Mental Health Awareness Month with a virtual town hall on April 30 to discuss recruitment needs for Student Health and Counseling Services and to listen to students’ concerns surrounding mental health resources. 

    The event was hosted by UC Davis Mental Health Initiative (MHI) Co-Directors Aparna Manoj and Sammy Veres.

    “For Mental Health Awareness Month, we are providing 20 fully online events in May that focus on the unique intersection of mental health and identity, culture, race and more,” Veres said. “We hope that students attending these events will join the discussion on the intersectionality of mental health and have a chance to learn more about communities that may differ from their own.”

    According to Veres, MHI hopes attendees of these events will also gain a sense of solidarity and realize their individual struggles are real and valid.

    “Advocating for students’ mental health is important because students often struggle silently and are not sure where or how to access mental health resources,” Veres said. “With student mental health organizations like MHI and many others on campus, we are raising awareness for students that may feel like they are alone.”

    While MHI has had to hold community events virtually this year, Veres shared that it has been great to hold these events and interact with students in any capacity the members of the organization can. 

At the town hall meeting MHI hosted, attendees raised individual concerns and suggestions regarding Student Health and Counseling and how it could better support students. 

    “There should be more incentive to develop interpersonal relationships between psychiatrists and the students they prescribe medications to,” said Rowen Clayton, a third-year human ecology major. “Students should feel good about the diagnosis or about medication. It shouldn’t be something they are hesitant to take because they were just randomly prescribed it.”

    Several attendees voiced concerns regarding the difficulty of navigating the Health-e-Messaging website students use to make appointments with a counselor.

    “I had no idea that students could do a free trial with a counselor [and] I tried to do that, but I was so intimidated by how the website worked, that I just completely backed out of it,” said Gianna Santos, a third-year linguistics major.

    Students also voiced the importance of having counselors who specialize in LGBTQIA+ rights, the neurodivergent community and students with disabilities. 

    MHI plans to use the feedback from the town hall to make hiring requests that best meet students’ needs. 

    In addition to MHI hosting virtual events for Mental Health Awareness Month, Student Health and Counseling is also supporting students’ state of mind this month.

    “We are placing a highlight on students’ needs at this time,” said Katie Cougevan, the clinical director at Student Health and Counseling, via email. “‘Listening Sessions’ have been scheduled to hear about concerns from certain student groups (upcoming is one in collaboration with SISS and Global Studies to hear more about what our International Students need in terms of support).”

    Student Health and Counseling is offering 26 different types of groups to meet student needs and foster the connection students are craving right now, according to Cougevan. 

    “Recent outreaches have also been highlighted to connect with students who identify as struggling with National events of hate crimes or targeted violence against specific underrepresented groups,” Cougevan said via email. “We offer safe spaces, processing of struggles in this current climate and exploration of how to address issues of social justice and advocacy.”

    Due to the pandemic, Student Health and Wellness is offering free modules to help students dealing with COVID-19 and loneliness. Students can access these self-help modules by visiting TAO Connect (Therapy Assistance Online) and signing up with their UC Davis email address.

    For students looking to learn more about the campus’ mental health and counseling options, a great resource is the mental health flyer. Additionally, students can make appointments through Health e-Messaging or contact mental health staff at their 24/7 hotline, (530) 752-0871. For 24/7 crisis support, students can text “RELATE” to 741741.  

    “I think our campus has done a great job in reducing stigma around seeking assistance for mental health issues,” Cougevan said via email. “I am excited that we have several recruitments in process and are bringing new counselors to campus for fall that reflect the diverse student body and needs of our campus community.”

Written by: Maddie Duley — campus@theaggie.org 

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