Student Liaisons Host First-Ever Mental Health Week

In the midst of a hectic reading period, students took a break from cramming for finals by attending mental health-themed events as part of Mental Health Week.

The series of events marked the Student Mental Health Liaisons’ first full week of programming on issues regarding mental wellness after having hosted a shorter two-day event last year. SMHL collaborated with other student organizations whose “communities may face increased stigma or vulnerability in regards to mental health concerns” to create programming, according to an emailed statement from SMHL director Melanie M. Slone ’17.

Organizers for the event chose reading period specifically to provide students a space to review their mental health habits during a time that many may find stressful.

Director of Indigo Peer Counseling Aakriti Prasai ’18 said that the timing was important when planning for its event, “Reflect & Look Forward.”

“We thought that this semester gets really busy, and people don’t really have space to reflect and look forward,” said Prasai. Indigo sought to provide “a space for people to decorate cookies and chat.”

Indigo recently announced it would start providing peer counseling services again next fall. Other events throughout the week included an open mic, a panel on the health benefits of sleep, and a screening of “Looking for Luke,” a documentary about the passing of Luke Z. Tang ’18.

The screening, co-hosted by SMHL and the Asian American Brotherhood, was one of the more popular events of the week. Dozens of students gathered at Fong Auditorium Tuesday night to watch the documentary.

Sara S. Surani ’18, an Indigo peer counselor, said she attended the screening because she knew Tang personally and was involved in mental health advocacy on campus.

“I think it’s really important to have different events for advocating and ensuring awareness about mental health,” Surani said. “Everyone knows someone who’s affected by mental health, whether it’s a friend or a family member, a friend of a friend, or even yourselves.”

In the future, SMHL plans to continue organizing and hosting a Mental Health Week annually.

Laura S. Chang ’18, part of SMHL’s steering committee, said that she hoped to make Mental Health Week an “established thing where this is a much more regular event that students can recognize and look forward to and just expect in their year.”

Slone called the week a “success,” citing high turnout at several of the events and engagement with topics she described as often stigmatized.

“It was our first Mental Health Week ever, and we think it’s very important that it exists,” she wrote, adding that SMHL is “very much looking forward to improving the week even more in the future.”

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at angela.fu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Dianne Lee can be reached at dianne.lee@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @diannelee_.

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