The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Students bring mental health concerns into the open

Students bring mental health concerns into the open

Video by Victor Jacobo 

Nearly 40 percent of all college students who receive counseling suffer from psychological disorders, according to a survey from the American College Counseling Association. So Marquette organizations banded together to sponsor this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which will take place April 8-14.

Mental Health Awareness Week is sponsored by several groups, including Active Minds, the Center for Health Education and Promotion, the Xi-Xi Chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, the Marquette Student Nurse Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Milwaukee, among others.

A green ribbon campaign, informational tables, an academic panel on how mental health intersects multiple disciplines, a theater performance, a student keynote event and a walk and vigil will highlight the week. 

Amy Messman, Marquette’s coordinator of health education and promotion, said students and faculty should wear green ribbons during the week to support those who have been affected by mental illness.

“Mental health-related issues can affect any of us,” Messman said. “I would encourage any student or staff member to get involved and show your support.”

Michael Haen, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and chapter welfare chairperson of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, helped to organize the week’s events.

Haen said in an email that the groups are hosting the week to raise awareness about mental health, allow community members to share stories about mental health and reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health conditions.

“I think everyone saw a clear trend in the media arising from Sandy Hook, a debate about gun control and a debate about how to address mental health in this country,” Haen said. “Much of the media coverage seems to focus on mental health only when violence is involved, and I think that point inspired Mental Health Awareness Week.”

Haen said students have to overcome the negative stigmas surrounding mental health and allow the issue to come to the forefront.

“If (mental health issues) remain private to the individual and there is a decision made to not disclose, there is a substantial risk that the disabling effects of the diagnosis will worsen,” Haen said.

Sue McKenzie, director of Rogers InHealth, an organization that serves people with mental illness, will deliver the keynote address, which will be followed by student stories focusing on mental health.

“This may sound odd, but if we start to accept mental health and the adversity sometimes associated with it as a commonality between us all, we can eliminate some of the stigma associated with it,” Haen said. “Sharing a personal experience with another person in an appropriate manner and setting can go a long way in opening up dialogue.”

Meghann Rosenwald, a junior in the College of Health Sciences and president of the Marquette chapter of Active Minds, said an open discussion is the most important thing to foster when it comes to mental health.

“The more comfortable students are with discussing mental health disorders and making them less of a taboo topic, the more likely they are to seek the treatment they need if they need it,” Rosenwald said. “The negative stigma surrounding mental health makes it difficult for students to talk about it. The more we talk about it, the less of a taboo it becomes.”

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