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UWRF facilitates conversation around mental health

March 11, 2020

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls has made addressing mental health a priority this spring semester. Student Health and Counseling Services has teamed up with Student Involvement to create a new program to break the stigma around talking about mental health.

Mental Health Mondays are held from 11 a.m. to noon in the Trimbelle room the second Monday of every month, on the second floor of the University Center. “This program is trying to make mental health conversations accessible,” says Elise Peters, the Events and Activities Coordinator in the Office of Student Involvement, “everybody experiences mental health whether it is from test stress or anxiety, everyone is interacting with it every day.” Students do not need to sign up for the event, however, it’s a Falcon 5 event so they get a point if they show up to swipe in!

Last year, Student Health and Counseling held an event called Success Coaching, which inspired Mental Health Mondays. Kaleah Bautch, a Mental Health Counselor for the Student Health and Counseling Office, said, “We wanted to make it stronger by pairing with student involvement.”

The idea was to create an open and inviting space where students could feel free to talk about their own experiences with mental health. Peters says, “We are aware that going into counseling is not always efficient, and being able to talk peer to peer can create conversations and destigmatize mental health and saying ‘oh, me too’ to others stories and experiencing similar things helps with creating that space for vulnerability.”

Peters and Bautch made a point to say that this event is not meant for walk-in visitors. Students should feel welcome and encouraged to sit and share for a while and experience the full event. Each event is structured with the idea of a topic, activity, some food, and finally sending people off with a self-care kit.

Although it only happens once a month, Peters and Bautch feel the events have been a success with engaged students attending and taking advantage of the space. Bautch feels it is beneficial to have events like this on a college campus for a few reasons, “ I think it shows that as a university we care about mental health. It is something that we value and want to give students the opportunity to continue to be able to work on and develop skills that will help them beyond college and be successful adults.”