By Shelby Buyer
Contributing Writer - -
College is hard. It is hard if you are only taking a few hours, or a full load. It is hard if you are struggling to make friends or have already found your group. There are a lot of variations to the college experience, but one thing stands true for them all, college is a challenge for one reason or another, and students’ mental health is at a huge risk during their time at school.
This is where the new club “Healthy Minds” comes in. The club mission statement states that the organization was founded on the simple yet powerful belief that “every life is inherently valuable and therefore worth fighting for.” As a club founded on this belief, it’s goal is to provide members of the UMHB community valuable tools to help promote mental health, end mental health stigma, and provide students access to professional resources if they need them. Club Hospitality Officer Ella Stockton added to the main goal of this club stating that the club was created around the idea that it could be a safe place of comfort for people who might be feeling lonely or needing a little help.
At a recent private officer meeting and a few regular meetings of the club, the goals and purposes of these determined officers do shine true. The tone of the meetings was almost instantly one of comfort and belonging, with all of the officers taking time to make sure each and every person who walked through the door was personally greeted and involved.
There is so much that this small but mighty club wants to do with it’s platform. Vice President Annabelle Barber made it clear that everyone was welcome to the club.
“You do not have to be struggling to join,” Barber said.
She and the rest of the officers stressed the importance of finding community and resources before a student might fall on hard times with their mental health. Treasurer Emily Titherage added to the conversation of what the club entailed, emphasizing that the club is not a huge time commitment and that there was no pressure to attend every meeting. Secretary Lauren Chesshir agreed.
“We want this to be a safe space for having the hard conversations,” Chesshir said.
In order to understand the important work this club is doing; it is vital to understand the importance of good mental health in college students. College students have a lot working against them in terms of mental wellness. First, there is a significant increase in academic and social pressures upon entering college. Second, students may feel a separation from previous mentors or support systems. Students also usually experience an increase in daily activity and a decrease in the amount of sleep they are getting, among other things. These issues can all significantly affect mental health.
A study conducted in 2021 found that over 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health condition. On top of this, 41% of college students reported having some form of depression and 34% stated they suffered from an anxiety disorder.
It is important to understand why taking care of one’s mental health matters in college. Mental health in college has an affect on academic outcomes, college experience, and on overall health and wellness. These, and many more, are the reasons why “Healthy Minds” is so valuable to UMHB’s student body. Club President Grace Hodgdon sums up this humble and hardworking group’s mission very simply.
“Even if it’s just one person that we help, that would be enough.”
Photos by Xhaxany Cuellar/TheBells: Students Jeremiah Peña and Molly Gilleland converse as they paint.