Island University to Host Campus Conversation Challenging Stigmas in Mental Health

By Olivia Santos | Published: October 02, 2019

Island University to Host Campus Conversation Challenging Stigmas in Mental Health

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Project GRAD is working to defy and debunk the myths and stigmas associated with mental health and minorities. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health issues can affect everyone regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. However, minority communities often face additional challenges identifying issues with mental health and when seeking treatment.

“There is a strong stigma that people with mental health issues are unpredictable and violent, and that adolescence do not experience mental health problems” said Joseph Green, Health Sciences Instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Science (CONHS). “That’s why it is essential that within the university population, we learn to recognize mental health behaviors.”

Creating a safe space for students, faculty, and staff to ask questions and learn more about mental health, Project GRAD , with assistance from I-CARE and PASS, are working to provide answers during their event “Campus Conversations: Minorites and Mental Health.”  The event takes place Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University Center, Anchor Ballroom and is just one more step in the Island University’s support of mental wellness in minorities and in all students.

“Students can experience mental health issues that have impacts on their ability to concentrate, retain information, and perform well academically,” said Alyssa Good, Licensed Professional Counselor II for the University Counseling Center. “To best support students, it is imperative mental health support options be provided. Legitimate barriers to services, mental health stigma, and misinformation about support and treatment are the leading causes to people neglecting themselves.”

According to MentalHealth.gov, Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, along with how we think, feel, and act. From handling stress to how we communicate, one’s mental wellbeing can gravely affect daily life and how a person makes life-altering decisions. Critical issues faced by minorities working to improve their mental wellness include: less access to treatment, poorer quality of care, language barriers, and higher levels of stigma.

“Culture plays a big part in how someone views a mental illness,” said Carmen Hernandez, CONHS Clinical Assistant Professor. “When family members are not educated to facts, they may let the signs and symptoms go unnoticed, allowing them to advance to a more serious stage of illness.”

Because 75% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 24, reports NAMI, college is a time during which many mental illnesses first appear. For minority college students, those numbers are all the more reason finding free to low-cost mental health resources are important. A&M-Corpus Christi works to provide a variety of resources to students through the University Counseling Center, including 10 free counseling sessions each semester, online mental health assessments, and free mental health apps.

 “Someone struggling with mental illness can absolutely recover,” said Hernandez. “The best combination is being engaged with a healthy lifestyle, surrounding yourself with positive people and knowing when to recognize you need help.”

The “Campus Conversations: Minorites and Mental Health” event invites the Islander community to come together to challenge their education on mental health, minorities, and where to find help. The event will also include an educational poster display showcasing mental health research from 37 students in Dr. Sherdeana Owens’ Health Education and Promotion class, covering topics of mental health including suicide and depression in college students, racism, and mental health in the LGTBQ+ community. Both nursing and health sciences students will be on-hand to discuss their poster and research findings.

 

If you go

RSVP on I-Engage at this link. The event includes a panel discussion, resources tables, and poster display by Dr. Sherdeana Owens’ Health Education and Promotion class.  The event also includes free lunch and door prizes. Panel experts include: Alyssa Good, University Counseling Center; Joseph Green, CONHS; Carmen Hernandez, CONHS; Charlotte Murray, A Product of Purpose and Educational and Motivational Services; Laura Schreeder, South Texas Family Planning & Health Corporation; and Kayla Stovall as moderator.