By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
Student Government is hosting Mental Health Week this fall to jump right into the conversation about mental health.
Each day this week, Student Government hosted a different event to open conversations about mental illness and communicate the resources available to students. This is all leading to World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, where the World Mental Health Organization will host its first global online advocacy event, Sierra Vista, Ariz., junior and External Vice President Gracie Kelliher said.
At 4 p.m. on Oct. 9, Kevin Hines has been invited to speak to Baylor students about suicide prevention, Kelliher said. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He survived, and now shares his story around the world.
“Even if it only helps one student, it’s worth it,” Kelliher said. “It’s not a numbers base, but if someone really comes out of this week and really benefited from this that absolutely makes all the effort worth the time.”
After Hines tells his story and answers questions, Kelliher said panelists Carolyn Cole, associate director of field education and lecturer in the Garland School of Social Work, and Dr. Brooke Hill-Allen, assistant director of community and diversity programs for the Baylor University Counseling Center, will discuss resources for students on campus and how to continue destigmatizing mental illnesses at Baylor.
“We often talk about our physical health and our spiritual health,” Hill-Allen said, “but sometimes mental health and wellness isn’t talked about. So in order for us to feel our best, we’ve got to take care of ourselves in all different areas, and so I think that’s why it’s really important for us to talk about how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking, what we’re experiencing — because that’s part of overall health and wellness.”
Kelliher said she wants Mental Health Week to allow students to respond with compassion to those struggling with a mental illness the same way they would if someone had a physical illness or injury.
“The first step is just recognizing that it’s something that no one is above dealing with,” Kelliher said. “We all have brains, and we all have a mental capacity, and keeping that healthy is so important … but I think the first step to addressing it is just recognizing how universal of a process it is.”
Hill-Allen said she hopes students will utilize the counseling center on campus, which is free to all students.
“We have a really amazing group of clinicians that I get to work with who all have a passion for college counseling and what it is to work in a university counseling center,” Hill-Allen said. “It’s not like other places. We get a really unique group of people that we get to work with … We’re all very highly trained, highly qualified clinicians who really seek and desire to support our students through this particular part of their life.”
Even though Mental Health Week at Baylor ends Oct. 9, there are going to be two more speakers coming to campus to talk about mental health as part of the Gil Taylor Behavioral Health Series, Kelliher said.
“As a community, we acknowledge our collective responsibility to address mental health issues that impact our neighbors as we collaboratively build the essential services for our city,” the Gil Taylor Behavioral Health Series stated.
H. Jean Wright II will be speaking at noon on Oct. 30 about the connection between mental health and spirituality, and Joe Padilla, co-founder and CEO of the Grace Alliance, will speak at noon on Nov. 6 about mental health recovery.
“The event is open to all students, and if you can’t make it, it’s recorded,” Kelliher said. “We’d love to get as much engagement as possible, and it’s just going to be really interesting and also a great perspective to gain even if you don’t think it directly applies to you, but you never know who it will apply to and how you can help them.”