Baylor hosting inaugural mental health awareness this week

Baylor Student Government will be hosting its first ever campus-wide Mental Health Awareness Week. Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

By Cameron Stuart | Reporter

Baylor Student Government is hosting its first ever campus-wide Mental Health Awareness Week from Feb. 11 to Feb. 15, highlighting mental health issues that students face.

In years past, the Baylor Counseling Center has hosted mental health awareness events in February and student government hosted a Mental Health Awareness Day around the time of final exams in May. This year, the two organizations, with the help of several others around Baylor, teamed up to make the event an entire week.

Sarah Bhimani, the director of administration in the executive branch of student government, is one of the main people responsible for organizing this week and its activities.

“We wanted each day to have a theme, one that students can relate to,” Bhimani said. “Those themes are going to include academic stress, spiritual stress, healthy relationships and the stigma that surrounds mental health.”

Student government’s events are primarily Monday and Tuesday, which include conversations on spiritual wellness and abuse, and a screening of the movie “Inside Out” played in the SUB on Monday night. Tuesday’s events are centered around Dr Pepper Hour, with tables representing different campus organizations and discussions about the rigors of academic stress.

When Bhimani and the rest of the executive branch met before the school year, this week and the issues surrounding is were a pivotal point of focus.

“Student government is starting to care more about what the students want and what the student voice is,” Bhimani said. “We discussed our top five issues for students and mental health awareness kept coming up in our talks.”

Dr. Jim Marsh, the executive director of counseling services at the counseling center, hopes this week will serve as a way for students to be able to meet therapists before even having to visit the counseling center.

“It’s a great way to meet a mental health professional,” Marsh said. “So we hope that by meeting us, it takes the barrier down of the thought of ‘hey, who are these guys?’”

The counseling center’s main event will take place on Thursday in the Baylor Sciences Building. The event, which is one the counseling center has ran for several years, is called “Hope, Peace, Love” and aims to have students enjoy food, movies, activities and more to shed light on mental health stigma, according to their fliers.

Marsh also thinks issues lie with students not knowing enough about the counseling center and being nervous to make an appointment.

“In the recent mental health survey, most students said they didn’t come to the counseling center because it’s too expensive, and it’s actually free,” Marsh said. “We are always working to make sure students know we exist, and that we’re here for them.”

For Bhimani, the call to organize this Mental Health Awareness Week came from Baylor’s own mission statement.

“I love Baylor’s mission statement because I think everyone can relate to it, whether they’re Christian or not,” Bhimani said. “We all come here with the goal of academic excellence, and mental health is such a critical part of that — no matter who you are.”

For more information on this week’s events, you can follow Baylor Student Government on Facebook.