On Friday, Sept. 21, the Student Government Association encouraged students to write and pin positive ideas to a wall and throw away negative thoughts in Shoemaker Square. This activity marked the last day of SGA’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
According to Health and Wellness co-director Kayley Safley Mental Health Awareness Week was founded in 2016 by former SGA Senators Shelby Gillis and Kirstie Jackson.
“They noticed there was a lack of community and awareness of mental health on campus, so they decided to write a bill to create Mental Health Awareness week,” Safley said.
On Monday, the group held a screening of the documentary “Reason to Live” and set up boards in the Student Union where students could write down how they were feeling, mentally speaking.
On Thursday, the SGA held a Q&A panel featuring researchers and analysts of mental health, and guests could ask questions regarding the topic. A free yoga class on Wednesday allowed participants the chance to relax and free their minds of any negative thoughts.
All of these events were designed to explore how mental health works, and how factors such as stress and anxiety can lead to more serious issues if not managed properly. As Safley pointed out, one of the things the SGA did Tuesday was to explore how suicide can impact a community.
“We had a backpack display out in Shoemaker Square. There were 21 backpacks, and each one represents how 21 collegiates each week commits suicide, on average statistically,” Safley said. “I think the greatest thing anyone can know is they’re not alone in their struggles to fight mental illness. Most mental illnesses tend to come before the age of 25, so this is the prime time to find out about those things.
“It’s really important because while we try to prioritize our family, our grades and our personal beliefs, it’s best to remember to prioritize ourselves as well,” Safley further explained. “It’s best to do this because if not, we could end up like someone on our backpack display.”
Senior health and nursing major Shannon Rogers said she supports the SGA’s decision to run the event, saying mental health is something that should be discussed more, especially since there are students like her who find it difficult to maintain a job, their grades and social life all at the same time.
“People our age should be more aware of mental health since I believe our age group is prone to getting stressed out from college and other activities, causing us to go into depression and other anxieties,” Rogers said.
For those looking to seek help, Southern Miss offers multiple resources. These include a clinical psychology department that provides testing for disorders such as ADHD and ADD, as well as Student Counseling Services in Bond Hall, where students can be counseled for free up to six times during the semester.