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Harvard Smiles Directs Students to Mental Health Resources

Student-run website directs visitors to mental health services

By Vivian W. Leung, Contributing Writer

Harvard students looking for support can now turn to HarvardSmiles.com, an online hub launched last week to direct students to mental health resources on campus.

Spearheaded by the Student Mental Health Liaisons—undergraduates who work with Wellness Tutors on campus to reach out to students seeking help—Harvard Smiles features information about mental health and sexual assault as well as a calendar of mental health events. The web portal also provides links to academic and personal counseling resources.

Students can add comments and submit posts anonymously. Content from this past week ranges from a handwritten note on ways to reduce stress to a Stephen Colbert video on laughter.

“Fundamentally, it’s set up as a blog concept,” said Seth A. Riddley ’12, a mental health liaison who developed the website. “We’d like to make that an active part of the website to keep the website alive and to provide an area where students and others can support one another in mental health.”

The Student Mental Health Liaisons, founded in 2008 by University Health Services Department of Behavioral Health and Academic Counseling, strives to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide peers with support and resources in their dorms.

According to Riddley, students tend to turn to their peers first in times of need.

“Having students involved in mental health on campus is important in enhancing the resources we have on campus,” he said.

Personal experiences with mental health have encouraged many to get involved in this effort, Riddley said.

“Having challenges myself and having friends going through challenges in mental health, I was really glad to find SMHL on campus,” he said.

The greatest factors contributing to mental health illness, which can interfere with academics and social life, include stress, sleep deprivation, and relationship trouble, according to Paul Barreira, UHS director of behavioral health and academic counseling, who advises the group.

“When students first come to campus from high school, they need to remember what helps them keep in balance,” Barreira said.

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