Raising mental health awareness at EWU


Mckenzie Ford

A suicide awareness display set up in the JFK Library by the Veterans Resource Center. The Veterans Resource Center, ASEWU and others at EWU are working together for Mental Health Awareness Week.

By Kaisa Siipola, Reporter

The Veterans Resource Center has a suicide awareness and prevention display set up all week in the JFK Library to inform students of the resources that are offered on campus in honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, which lasts from Feb. 25 to March 1.

ASEWU decided to reach out to the Veterans Resource Center to collaborate on Mental Health Awareness Week by hosting the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Fair. The goal is to spread awareness about suicide and promote resources for prevention on Feb. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the PUB.

Veteran Corps Navigator Jorge Santiago is a retired veteran of 22 years and works in the Veterans Resource Center through the AMERICORPS VET CORPS Program. Santiago was intrigued by Mental Health Awareness Week because the subject of mental health hits very close to home for him due to having friends that have attempted and died by suicide.

The Veterans Resource Center is collaborating with ASEWU, CAPS and the Health, Wellness and Prevention Services for a panel and tabling portion during the fair, according to Santiago.

One issue regarding mental health, Santiago says, is that when veterans are seeking assistance, whether in or out of service, they can be scared to speak up because it affects security clearance issues and the ability to do their jobs.

“It’s one of those things but it’s getting better, but in the vet community, it is seen as a weakness that you got to have help,” Santiago said. “The idea that you can’t deal with some of those things you saw, some of the things you did when you were serving, a lot of times you don’t want to speak up because you don’t want to be weak.”

Addressing mental health topics can be uncomfortable, but ASEWU Health and Safety Services representative Jessica Lo says it’s important to highlight mental health issues at EWU.

“With my position, I feel really strongly, mainly about wanting to focus more on mental health, some topics that maybe some people don’t really talk about here at EWU,” Lo said. “So I feel suicide awareness and prevention and depression and things like that are very important to me.”  

Even though faculty members work throughout the day, Lo encourages faculty members to join the conversation during Mental Health Awareness Week because the events are open to everyone.

“Especially with this serious topic, everybody is going through something,” Lo said. “And I feel like they should be included and they should feel comfortable and it would be great if they could come to these events, that way students and other faculty members could feel more involved because it is a community here at EWU so the whole point is to bring everyone together.”

Students and faculty can be reassured that there are resources on campus that are willing to help, according to Santiago.

Anyone struggling with their own mental health and thoughts of suicide can seek assistance by calling 1.800.SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), 1.800.273.TALK (1-800-273-8255) or can contact CAPS at 509-359-2366 or visit them in Martin 225.