Panel attempts to rid the stigma of mental health

By Tania Nunez, Contributor

Students and faculty came together to discuss mental health at a panel held in the JFK Library May 3. The panel sought to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to create an open forum in which students could ask the panelists questions regarding mental health.

“I think [mental health] is something that we are increasingly aware of, not just in higher education, but as a nation,” said Dr. Heidi Schnebly, Associate Dean of Students, who also served as the moderator for the panel. “One of the reasons for that panel is to take away the stigma.”

The panel of five professors and counselors from the EWU community discussed topics that included risk factors, postpartum depression, anxiety, resources on campus and more.

Senior Kelsey White, who attended the panel, stated the importance of advocating for mental health awareness.

“I think we need to start making it less scary for people to open up about emotions and struggles with mental health,” White said.

According to a study conducted by the Spokane Regional Health District in 2015, 11 percent of people suffered from poor mental health. Stacey Chay, a social work professor and panelist for the event, emphasized the normality of struggling with mental health.

“Depression is the number one cause of disability in ages 15 to 44 in our country,” Chay said. “So it’s incredibly impactful for a really large number of people and we aren’t talking about it.”

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is only one of many resources available to students at EWU. Schnebly also noted Student Affairs, Residential Life Coordinators and CAs, Health and Wellness, Coaches, the Dean of Students, Student Support and Advocacy and Rockwood as places where students can find help. For those who are unsure of what they’re going through, Chay suggests reaching out to someone supportive.

“Talk to somebody that will be receptive and continue to talk until you find somebody who is receptive,” Chay said.

EWU has also introduced TAO as an online self-help resource for students to navigate any questions or concerns regarding their mental health.

“That’s the importance about mental health, it doesn’t have to be a forever thing,” said Schnebly.  “There are resources to help and there are people who are here to support [those] who are struggling.”

If anyone is struggling with mental health, Counseling and Psychological Services is located in Monroe Hall 225. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 1-4 p.m. CAPS can also be reached at (509) 838-4428.