HCC dedicates week to tackling awareness for mental health

InternationaliTEA partnered with the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) to host a relaxation pop-up on Oct. 10 for Mental Health Week on campus. In honor of International Mental Health day last Tuesday, the HCC hosted a full week of on-campus events including a community art project known as the “Inside Out Masks Project.”

On Tuesday, journals were sprawled across a table, prompting students to write out their thoughts. Participants were encouraged to unwind with adult coloring pages. Pillows were laid in a corner for relaxing, mindful meditation. Puzzles were sprawled on another table, catching multiple brain exercises. Everything about the event served to promote mental health.  

“Everyone deals with mental health differently and we all have some kind of mental health at some point in our lives.” said Jenna Parro, Wellness and Outreach Coordinator of the Health and Counseling Center. “We want everyone to know that and everyone to have the skills they need to deal with these points as they come their way.”

The Director of the HCC, Dr. Calvin Kelly,  posed a stimulating question to the participants: “What is your story?” The students eyes were glued to Dr. Kelly as he walked to the center of the ball room.

Dr. Kelly cultivated the importance of building narrative. His example stemmed from the Las Vegas mass shooting, describing it as this generation’s 9/11. The shooting occurred on Oct. 1 during a Jason Aldean concert. Over 58 people were killed and 500 injured, but the aftermath shook the nation to its core. Dr. Kelly declared that the event impacted everyone and will create an important narrative around mental health.

“We were all affected by this shooting. Just like everyone can pinpoint their narrative around 9/11. We will have our own narrative surrounding this shooting,” he said. “I believe it’s important to build your narrative — to tell your story.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there were an estimated of 43.4 million adults in the United States with an diagnosable mental illness in 2015. These mental illnesses can range from “no or mild impairment to significantly disabling impairment.” In this collection of data, 21.7 percent were between the ages of 18-25. College students were in the highest rated of mental illness, which can be contributed to the environment of university.

A different organization committed to mental health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness labeled the top stressors that may affect mental health for college students as academic pressures, financial stress, loneliness, inadequate sleep and unmet expectations. These struggles are not all uncommon for Hilltoppers.

The Health and Counseling Center hosted this event to build healthy coping mechanisms during the stress of college and to foster a stronger community at St. Edward’s. Dr. Kelly pointed out that college is one of the most stressful times of a person’s life.