Student And Staff Panel Discusses Mental Health In An Effort To Raise Awareness
Members of the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC), Active Minds, and staff from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) met last night to hold a panel discussion on mental health issues and related personal experiences as the third signature event during UPUA’s Mental Health and Wellness Week.
The panel consisted of four Penn State students who are members of either Active Minds or CRC, as well as a CAPS representative and an addiction specialist. They shared various personal struggles with mental health hardships throughout their lives, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression, and self-harm.
Garrett Warmbein, UPUA’s Director of Mental Health and Wellness, was a key player in organizing the event and stressed its significance to improving mental health awareness across campus.
“The panel offered students, both struggling with mental health challenges and those wanting to learn more, a chance to interact with peers and hear about a unique perspective and how resources have been a benefit to the panelists,” Warmbein explained. “It was very effective in bringing awareness to just some of the obstacles that mental health problems present to individuals.”
Mary Anne, the CAPS representative who moderated the panel, sought to give voice to the students who have faced such challenges in their lives while also asking thoughtful and provocative questions about their recoveries. One of those questions — asking about the options available for students in the CRC — resonated with one of the student panelists. They detailed the advantages of joining CRC, explaining how they not only focus on club activities such as skiing, but give their members people who they can relate to, are similar to, and can talk to, ultimately providing a much-needed sense of belonging.
The students on the panel also emphasized how supportive and instrumental CAPS has been during their recoveries. CAPS offers licensed therapists, doctoral interns, internal counseling, depression and anxiety clinics, and numerous other services that assist those who seek the service’s help in providing guidance and support.
A member of the audience inquired what the most meaningful message of encouragement was for anyone going through something similar, and the panel eagerly responded with inspiring answers.
“The best is yet to come,” responded one student, representing Active Minds. “I think it stands for, ‘you’re struggling right now, and that’s okay’. It’s important to have a positive reminder in your life.”
“Where there’s a breath, there is hope,” replied another student in CRC. “A lot of the time you have to go breath by breath. I think mental health is the most important thing throughout life. There’s no degree I can earn that’s ever going to be valuable enough to sacrifice my mental health and well-being.”
Mary Anne concluded the discussion by attesting how important it is to guide those around you towards CAPS if they ever indicate that they may need tits services. She also asserted how grateful CAPS was to UPUA, CRC, Active Minds, and any other organization in pursuit to provide more mental health services, recognizing that they may not always be able to fully service everyone.
Active Minds meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m., and CRC has people available in the club room in 105 Pasquerilla Spiritual Center all day, every day.