Written by: Olivia Johnson, Sonoma State Star Staff Writer
There are over 1,100 deaths per year from suicide alone, whereas anxiety and depression are becoming more and more common in young adults each year.
One’s state of mental health is the most important thing a person should be aware of , especially in college where students are becoming independent from their parents. That is why Sonoma State University’s Counseling and Psychology Services will be putting on their annual Mental Health Awareness Week, from March 2 - March 6.
The event is set to kick off on March 2, with tabling from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center Quad, where there will be anxiety and depression screenings. Tools to help students who are affected will also be provided. From there, the services will be putting on a series of six different workshops, where those attending will be more informed about mental health.
The workshops include movie screenings to guest speakers, a comedy show, a panel to ask questions and a student-led exhibit, “In Your Shoes,” will be held. By the end of the week, students are given the opportunity to be trained and certified in suicide prevention.
“The whole event is super informative,” said Sonoma State psychology major Alyssa Chagnon. “Mental health is a serious thing that people really need to be more aware about. Something like this could really help someone who is struggling and doesn’t know what’s going on.”
This is exactly what the services main goal are: to spread awareness about mental health and illness and provide help to those in need.
“We want to be able to destigmatize what it is actually like to be living with a mental illness,” said Isabel Avila Saiter, a post-doctoral fellow psychologist for the services. “Also, to be able to connect people to resources and provide suicide awareness tools.”
On March 3, the events will begin with “In Your Shoes,” a student-run exhibit to show how serious mental health is. The event’s organizers are asking students to donate shoes in order to reach a total of 1,100—the same amount of deaths that occur each year from suicides. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Stevenson/Darwin Quad. The shoes will be donated to an organization called Soles 4 Souls and the exhibit hopes to inspire action for suicide prevention.
On the same day at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom D, a discussion titled In Your Voice will be held. Here, students will be able to listen to speakers’ stories which illustrate the realities of living with a mental illness. There will also be a movie screening of “Of Two Minds,” a film based upon a character who suffers from bipolar disorder.
As “In Your Shoes” continues throughout the week, on March 4 at noon in Mario Savio Speakers Corner, there will be the Speak Out and Awareness Walk. This is the time where those attending will be able to hear stories from those who have recovered from mental illness and are continuing to live their lives.
On March 5 at 3 p.m., students will be given the opportunity to become suicide prevention certified. They will learn three simple steps that could help save someone’s life. Then at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom, a comedy show and Sonoma State panel will be held. Stand-up comedian Brian Wetzel will discuss his experience with depression in “What’s So Funny About Depression?” with hopes of changing the stigma about mental illness.
“Brian said he has used humor as a survivor tool in his life and feels others relate to this as well,” said Dr. Joe Puentes, the outreach coordinator for Counseling and Psychological Services.
Following the comedy show will be a panel filled with different leaders from Sonoma State where they will discuss health issues on campus.
“I believe strongly in community mental health as well as the individual counseling we do at CAPS,” said Puentes. “So many areas of campus have come together to create the week, Residence Life, Campus Life, CSLIS Office, the Master’s in Counseling Program, the Peer Mentor Program, multiple SSU Professors, students from Greek Life, students from Psi Chi and various other students with a passion for this issue joined in.”