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Mental health disorders are prominent on college campuses across the country, often concentrated in the first two years of enrollment. Thirty-seven percent of those struggling with depression are between the ages of 18 and 22. Without adequate support for those illnesses, many students won’t remain in school. To help her peers that struggle with mental health issues, Haley Smith, a sophomore at the University of Colorado, created Wellness Week, which happened from April 10 through 15.
Wellness Week, a seven-day event with different themes for each day, aims to bring back the color into the lives of those who struggle with mental health disorders. The activities consisted of things like tie-dying t-shirts, doing yoga or kickboxing, and the event sparked a discussion about mental health disorders on campus, and the resources that CU provides.
Smith described how important it was for her to show the CU community that there are outlets and resources for those struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions.
“When you are suffering from a mental illness, you do not have a lot of control and it feels very passive,” Smith said. “I started a task force so students could come together and be very active in leadership roles on campus.”
She also talked about the multitude of resources that CU has made available to its students.
“The accommodations for these matters are in place, it’s just a matter of communicating that to the students,” Smith said.
One of the ways to receive support for a number of different mental health disorders on campus is to reach out to Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS). The organization is a confidential mental health clinic that provides six free visits per academic year for fee-paying CU students. For students that may need it, CU also offers the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA). The counseling and advocacy staff provide free, confidential counseling for those who have experienced various forms of trauma.
In addition to these resources, Smith created a website for Buffs who do not know where to turn. It contains a plethora of information on things ranging from how to manage mental health disorders to all the resources available on campus. It has links to her projects, one of which aims to erase the stigma associated with mental health disorders.
“We are a safe place and students can come to us and feel comfortable, because we are students as well,” Smith said.
Currently, the task force is working to continue Wellness Week in the future, and to continue to educate students about the opportunities CU offers. Eventually, they hope to bring even more resources to the campus to reach a larger percentage of students.