While students, faculty and staff are physically distant, the Counseling Center at Rogers State University is still working to provide resources and support. Coordinator of Counseling Services Nikki Phillip is thankful for the resources provided by her recent trip to the Active Minds National Conference in Washington, D.C.
RSU students Jamie Wallace and Beth Smith, along with Phillip, recently attended the nation’s premier conference focused on young adults and mental health. Jamie Wallace, a community counseling major, was excited to be a part of the conference for the first time.
“This trip meant so much as it allowed us to network with Active Minds chapters from universities all across the country,” Wallace said. “We attended numerous workshops, listened to important keynote speakers, and learned of new ways for our organization to help end the stigma that surrounds mental health on our RSU campus.”
Active Minds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness among college students, via peer-to-peer dialogue and interaction.
Alison Malmon, the founder and executive director, created the organization after her brother’s suicide. She was determined to change the way the United States approached mental health.
Malmon began the tough conversation on her college campus of the University of Pennsylvania. During her research, she concluded that mental illness starts between ages 14 and 24 when teens and young adults are in school. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, according to the Active Minds website.
The Active Minds organization made an impact on Wallace and Smith. They began finding ways to increase awareness on their own campus.
“Jamie and Beth took ownership of the organization at RSU and lead it to be recognized by the Active Minds national chapter,” Phillips said.
Their key project, Planting Positivity, encouraged students to find the good in each new day.
“Active Mind students handed out mini clay pots to their peers. The idea was to have the plant in their space and see something positive every day. I think the students who participated really enjoyed this activity, and we look forward to replicating it for years to come,” Phillip said.
In this time of social distancing, it is important to keep in digital contact with family and friends and take care of yourself mentally and physically.
“I think the biggest tip I can give during this time of isolation is to practice self-care. Everyone is trying to adapt to this pandemic in many ways and many continue to try to replicate business as usual in a digital space,” Phillip said. “Try to recognize what is stressing you the most and re-evaluate that situation to decide the best way to de-stress. Treat yourself to your favorite drink or snack, start an exercise routine, read a book or begin a new hobby.”
Education and implementation is key to creating a positive and safe atmosphere for all.
“The best way we can help our own university is to educate our students, faculty and staff about mental health and how to recognize if someone is struggling. Listen to them, appreciate them for sharing with you and then refer them for help,” Phillip said.
The Counseling Center at Rogers State University is staffed by a professional counselor. Students can receive confidential and short-term personal counseling at no charge while enrolled. Other services include ULifeline, an online health screening tool, information and resources about mental health issues. Students can also call the Grand Lake Mental Health Center Crisis Line at 800-722-3611, which is free and available after 5 p.m. weekdays and 24 hours on holidays and weekends, if they need immediate assistance.