In 2022 the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement is launching a series of events from Feb. 21 to March 18 that they are branding as Mental Health Month, in order to provide resources, awareness and a space to talk about important mental health issues.
Nationally, the month of May is considered Mental Health Awareness Month. However, since the Lewis & Clark academic year ends in the first week of May, this important issue often gets overlooked by the very people who would likely benefit from it the most: college students.
Mental Health Month is full of events, talks and workshops that every LC student should take advantage of. Though officially one of the Center’s newest signature programs, the month is actually a collaborative effort between almost a dozen campus organizations including Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME), Queer Student Union and the newest student-run mental health organization, the Pioneer Support Network. Organizations that usually might not find themselves working together, like College Outdoors and the Office of Spiritual Life, are also teaming up to work on this project.
This means that Mental Health Month has something for everyone. Spiritual Que(e)ry is taking students on a peaceful meditation walk through Tryon and IME is sponsoring a community circle for students to talk about marginalized identities and mental health. The office is also providing self-care packages for students to pick up and use on their own time. There is a different event sponsored by a different organization almost every day, which means the broad topic of mental health is being looked at from every angle.
The best thing about this interdisciplinary approach is that it highlights the intersectionality of LC students and college students in general. Black and brown students have a different experience with the mental healthcare system, and there is an event for that. LGBTQ+ students have a different experience than their peers, and there is space to talk about that as well.
The month does overlap with the 41st annual LC Gender Studies Symposium, but no events are held during the actual activities associated with the symposium. The events culminate the next week with a volunteer event entitled Letters Against Depression. The only event during the month officially put on by the Center, Letters Against Depression is part of the office’s “Lunch n’ Lead” series and affords students the opportunity to write thoughtful, upbeat and positive letters to people struggling against depression. In my view, this event is a fitting culminating activity to a month filled with mental health awareness: It teaches students that their hope and support matters, while giving them the opportunity to pay forward what the past month has just taught them.
I think every month should be mental health month, seeing as college students are one of the most at risk groups for suicide and internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, but this program is a move in the right direction by the Center, and an amazing collaboration during a time in which I think we could all use a little bit more community.