Mental health, like physical health, is something we need to do our best to maintain. Mental Health Awareness Week (April 8 to April 12) is designed to help the Buffalo State community, especially students, maintain good mental health.
“We need to take care of our mental health,” said Suzanne Johnson, senior counselor at the Buffalo State Counseling Center. “We have to take steps to stay mentally healthy, and to increase our awareness of the campus and community resources that can help us if we feel we have problems. And we have to work to decrease the stigma about mental health issues.”
Beginning on April 8, the Counseling Center will present a week of events to increase mental and emotional wellbeing, and to promote Buffalo State’s civil and caring community. The first event will take place in front of Weigel, where staff members will pass out balloons and mood dots to let the campus know it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Hand-outs about campus resources will also be available.
The highlight of the week is the Mental Health Awareness Fair, scheduled for Thursday, April 11, in the lobby of the Bulger Communication Center from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. “Campus offices, student groups, and community organizations will offer information,” said Johnson. “We will have a depression screening, and the student group Active Minds will offer some relaxing activities.”
Several community groups including Preventionfocus, Crisis Services, and the Erie County Department of Health will be on hand to provide information. Two traveling exhibits from the disAbility Museum will be displayed, including “Madness in America: A History of Mental Health,” and “War and Disability.” The first features the development of mental institutions, changes in treatment, and contributions by those who received mental health services.
“We wanted to include ‘War and Disability’ because we have many students who are veterans,” said Johnson. Information about services available to veterans will be on hand. The Disability Services office, Health Promotions, the Newman Center, and the Fitness Center will also provide information about their services. “Different people have different ways to take care of their mental health, so it’s important to offer a lot of options,” said Johnson.
Stress is a real problem for college students, whether they are traditional students in the process of becoming self-disciplined, goal-oriented adults or nontraditional students balancing the demands of work and family with their academic efforts. “Getting enough sleep is tremendously important,” said Johnson, “but that’s one of the first things college students sacrifice.”
While April 8 through April 12 is Mental Health Awareness Week, the Counseling Center is available year-round to help students. Johnson loves her work as a counselor, and she is excited about a tool she’s been using recently, the resiliency scale. “It helps you identify your strengths,” she said, “so you can use them to cope with stress in a positive way. That’s the point of the whole week—to learn how to feel as well as we can every day.”