Mental health issues prevail in American society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 43.8 million adults encounter mental illness each year. Nearly 60 percent of all adults affected by mental illness do not receive services or support. This week, UTK Student Government Association and Student Counseling Center aim to change these statistics and help all Volunteers know “you’re not the only one” by promoting Mental Health Awareness Week.
SGA set up tents on Pedestrian Walkway, the New Student Union Lawn, Presidential Court and in the Hodges Library Atrium to promote the event. Tables feature free snacks, SGA buttons and stickers, water bottles, stress balls and most notably, free bracelets.
Each bracelet color corresponds to one of six differing areas of mental health: mental health itself, trauma, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and suicide. Each bracelet features the event theme slogan, “You’re not the only one.” The bracelets also have the number 974-HELP listed where students may call for support.
According to the Center for Health Education and Wellness at UTK, “The goal of 974-HELP is to provide help and support to all students, enabling them to succeed and thrive while at the University of Tennessee.” Students are strongly encouraged to use the resources available to them if they or another student need assistance.
Dr. Alicia Brown of the Student Counseling Center and Student Government Senators Bev Banks and Thomas Cortez tabled outside the Student Union Wednesday afternoon talking to students about available assistance and promoting mental health awareness.
“People have been really receptive,” Banks said. Cortez agreed and said, “People have been very grateful. It’s not something people really talk about.”
Both agreed the week-long event was an important topic worthy of discussion and support. Senator Kalina Blazanovic believes the event will become an annual staple to discuss mental health and support fellow Volunteers. Continuation of the promotion will depend on the next executive branch of SGA, but with such warm reception, none would be surprised to see these tables back next fall.
SGA released a video on social media Sunday featuring students willing to voice their experiences and encourage support for those struggling in similar situations.
SGA President Carson Hollingsworth said, “We want all the members of our campus community to know that they are valued, they matter and they are not alone when it comes to mental health. We are so thankful to partner with the Counseling Center, the Center for Health Education and Wellness and the Dean of Students office to advocate for mental health awareness this week.”
Mental Health Awareness Week comes in conjunction with National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. A Recovery Fair with free food and local resources was held on Ped Walkway Tuesday afternoon.
SGA will finish out the week with tables on Ped Walkway from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Featured image by Lexie Little
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo