By Abigail Loop
An advocate from a nonprofit mental health organization is on Baylor’s campus today to spread awareness of mental health issues and help struggling college students.
Colleen Coffey will be the featured speaker at a free event sponsored by Baylor’s Academy for Leader Development. Coffey will speak to students and faculty about stigmas surrounding mental heath issues and advise on methods to help those in need.
The free event will start at 6 p.m in Miller Chapel.
Coffey is a speaker with Active Minds, Inc., a national organization for student voices on mental health awareness in college students, according to the organization’s website. Coffey said she has prepared stories from her own experiences with mental health issues to share with students and encourage them to take a stand.
“One person has the ability to make a huge difference,” Coffey said. “A lot of people don’t seek the help they need and they’re struggling. But even though we don’t get to pick when we get issues, we do get to choose how to handle them.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.
Coffey said she dealt with her own mental health issues while she was in college and she wants students who are having trouble to know they are not alone.
“I’m going to talk about my own stories from college,” she said. “I want to show that I’ve been where these students have been and that I got through it. I think by sharing my own experience, it’s a powerful way to get through to them.”
Joshua Donath, a graduate apprentice in the leader development department, said he expects the lecture to have a significant effect on the Baylor community and that the department worked to bring Coffey to campus because a first person account of overcoming mental health challenges is what gets through to students.
“Last year we had another speaker from Active Minds, Inc. and the audience loved his story,” Donath said. “Colleen Coffey is the perfect speaker for this and will be informing people about the role they can play in helping people with mental health issues and their recovery process.”
Coffey said she is honored to have the opportunity to speak at Baylor and give students information that she hopes will prove helpful in their college lives. “I’m really excited and looking forward to this,” she said. “College is an important and large component of life and this brings about stress. People should know it’s OK to not be OK.”