In an effort to empower students and foster a culture of mental health support, Kennesaw State University (KSU) has introduced its innovative “You Matter Program” coinciding with National Suicide Prevention Month.
The program, led by the KSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) within the Division of Student Affairs (DSA), aims to combat the stigma surrounding depression and suicidal thoughts among college students.
Through a combination of events, awareness campaigns, and strategically placed signs on campus, the initiative encourages open discussions about daily life stressors, equips students to recognize signs of distress in their peers, and provides access to a wealth of resources for those in need.
The You Matter program seeks to reassure students that they are not alone and that help is readily available on campus.
Marcy Stidum, Assistant Vice President of Student Wellbeing in the Division of Student Affairs, emphasizes the importance of fostering an environment where students feel comfortable seeking support.
“We want to make sure students know there are people on campus to support them and that they don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to reach out,” she asserts.
While the program officially launched in September, the intention is for the suicide prevention measures and awareness events to continue as an ongoing, evergreen campaign led by KSU CPS.
Ariyanna White, Associate Director of Case Management with CPS, sheds light on the challenges many students face in building connections and finding a sense of belonging, particularly in the wake of the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic-induced period of isolation has left numerous students feeling isolated and unable to relate their concerns and fears to others.
The You Matter program’s primary focus has been to create relatable events that resonate with students.
By leveraging discussions, and interactive activities, and incorporating elements of popular culture and social media trends, the program encourages peer interaction and engagement.
These relatable elements not only facilitate dialogue about mental health but also promote a sense of belonging and community among students.
Breaking Down the “You Matter Program”
- Stigma Reduction: Central to the “You Matter” program is the mission to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health challenges, including depression and suicidal thoughts. By fostering an environment of acceptance and understanding, KSU aims to create a space where students feel safe discussing their mental health concerns.
- Awareness and Resources: Through strategically placed signs and awareness campaigns across both campuses, KSU seeks to heighten students’ awareness of the support systems available to them. The program directs students to KSU’s counseling services as well as state and national resources, ensuring they have access to help when they need it most.
- Peer Support: The “You Matter” initiative acknowledges the value of peer support. Many students who visit the counseling center express difficulties in making friends and finding a sense of belonging, exacerbated by feelings of isolation during the pandemic. The program aims to bridge these gaps by promoting peer interaction and fostering connections.
- Relatable Engagement: Recognizing that students often find it easier to engage with topics they can relate to, the program incorporates discussions, games, and activities that align with popular culture trends and social media. This approach not only makes mental health discussions more accessible but also helps students feel seen and understood.
KSU’s “You Matter program” exemplifies the university’s dedication to prioritizing the mental health and well-being of its students.
By breaking down barriers to seeking help, raising awareness, and creating a supportive community, KSU aims to ensure that no student feels isolated or unsupported in their mental health journey.
As the program unfolds and evolves, it is poised to serve as a model for other educational institutions seeking to address the pressing mental health needs of students.
With a focus on empathy, accessibility, and inclusivity, KSU’s “You Matter” initiative provides a shining example of how universities can play a pivotal role in promoting mental health awareness and support.
In conclusion, the “You Matter” program at Kennesaw State University is a proactive and innovative response to the mental health challenges faced by college students.
By promoting open dialogue, reducing stigma, and leveraging relatable engagement strategies, KSU is not only providing immediate support but also fostering a culture of mental health awareness and inclusivity.
As the program continues to make a positive impact, it underscores the importance of prioritizing mental health on campuses nationwide.