For Ellison Perkins, her communication senior project had been on her mind for months. She wanted to create something worthwhile, something life-changing. Perkins decided to focus on helping students with finding resources and finding hope in mental health struggles.
“I have seen the personal effects that mental health can have,” Perkins said. “I wanted to do something so people can know their resources and where they could turn.”
On June 20, Perkins put together a mental health awareness seminar with guest speaker, Andra Hansen, a communication faculty member. Students gathered in the North Point amenities building to gain knowledge about how they can better help their roommates, friends and family through difficult and complex mental health issues.
The topic of the seminar was how to help others in their struggles properly without hurting yourself or others in the process. Hansen placed a lot of emphasis on not handling these issues alone.
“Don’t sit in your struggles,” Hansen said. “Get help.”
One of the audience members said that sometimes it can be hard for her and others to admit that something is wrong. Hansen agreed that we may feel conditioned to say, “good” when actually we are not.
“Understand that when you help someone, they are going to lie,” Hansen said. “They are going to say ‘good’ because sometimes they don’t know how to say ‘bad.'”
Hansen is a leader in dealing with suicide prevention on campus and works as a QPR trainer. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. She encouraged students in attendance to work with her and get QPR certified. She can give people the tools they need to help others with suicidal thoughts and how to lead them to professional help.
Hansen encouraged the students to be a resource for good for those struggling and those who don’t act like they are struggling. She asked the students to reflect on a time they were hurting or felt like they couldn’t talk about what they were going through. This unified the audience together and they realized everyone goes through hard things.
Hansen ended with an invitation and a challenge to become. She invited the participants to write three people’s names down in a journal and ponder ways they can help them. Little acts of service can include a phone call, waving as they walk to class and smiling.
“We don’t know what everyone is going through,” said Kelly King, a freshman studying exercise physiology, who attended the seminar. “Little things every day will make a difference because this is a huge rising issue that needs to be taken care of.”
Perkins closed the seminar with hopes that someone heard what they needed. She created pamphlets and stickers to help remind students that mental health is something that needs to be recognized and that there is somewhere to turn.
“This is something our campus needed and I wanted to show that anything can make a small difference,” Perkins said.