October 26, 2016

GUEST ROOM | Awareness and Action

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In an incredibly powerful Guest Column, ‘Enough with Awareness Week, We Need Policy Change,’ many areas that need reform and change are cited. We strongly agree with the sentiment that the University needs to treat mental health care needs with the same urgency that they do physical health. Given our involvement in the mental health community at Cornell, we would be remiss to say that we believe awareness is at an acceptable level. Awareness is the basis of any policy change. Without popular support and demand for improved services and changes in policies related to mental health, little or likely no progress will be made. And even once it becomes evident that the Cornell community has a more widespread awareness, the work is never done. Awareness is iterative, each year new students come and seniors graduate, students transfer and students forget or miss some information. As with physical health awareness, we all need regular reminders to keep our health and that of our loved ones at its peak.

For the second time, Mental Health Awareness Week has come to an end on campus. The week was a concentrated effort aimed at promoting awareness of mental health and reducing the stigma associated with openly discussing it and seeking help. While we understand that short-lived campaigns cannot be the sole answer to our mental health needs, it certainly plays a role in reaching the students who may have never been exposed to mental health education and resources that were highlighted during this week. Mental health issues affect everyone in a different way, which is why so many organizations were involved in Mental Health Awareness Week. Normalizing the conversation surrounding mental health also requires involvement of as many members of the community as possible. Moving forward, we hope to actively work to continue the conversation, and facilitate conversations with the administration around changes that need to be made. Cornell Minds Matter and the Student Assembly will be holding a Forum on Mental Health Policies, Resources, & Programs this Thursday, Oct. 27th at 6 p.m. in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room. We invite all students to attend, share issues, and listen to concerns. If you are unable to attend, or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]. Following the forum, we will be working to implement action items and goals in response to issues students bring forward.

Cornell Minds Matter is the student organization that promotes the overall mental and emotional health of all Cornell students, and works to reduce the stigma of mental illness. They have open events nearly every day of the week, and you can visit them on the second floor of Willard Straight Hall. Also located on this floor is the Cornell Minds Matter Resource Center, a new centralized physical space for all students to relax, study, enjoy refreshments, find information on resources, and have their questions answered.

Apprising students of the resources available was a key goal of the week, and we’d like to remind all students of the various resources available to provide support through our Caring Community. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Gannett provides crisis intervention, brief counseling, and referral services to students. You may call Gannett anytime at 607-255-5155; it is a 24/7 resource. Through CAPS, Let’s Talk is a program that provides easy access to counselors that offer informal, confidential walk-in hours Monday through Friday at various locations across campus; check out their website for more information. Empathy Assistance and Referral Service (EARS) is a peer-to-peer confidential, non-judgemental resource where trained students use empathetic, active listening skills and problem-solving techniques to provide referrals for services. You can visit EARS on the second floor of Willard Straight Hall Sunday Thursday from 3 to 11 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 10 p.m. or Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m., or call at 607-255-EARS.

Feel free to reach out to us about the Student Assembly Forum, getting involved, resources available or with any additional questions or concerns!