Second annual Mental Health Town Hall event addresses student concerns surrounding campus support services

The second annual Mental Health Town Hall met on Monday March 11 in Newton 204 at 4 p.m. to discuss what students, faculty, staff and administration have to say about mental health at the college. 

The Mental Health Advisory Committee hosted the event and addressed criticism from students about the state of mental health on campus. 

Chair of the Mental Health Advisory Committee and Lauderdale Staff Counselor Laura Swanson emphasized that the main goals for student mental health on campus are universal mental health programs, roles in receiving and giving help through a campus-wide commitment to helping students and open conversations about mental health.  

Political science major freshman Margaux Carmel said she feels there is a lack of counselors at Lauderdale and believes that this inhibits students from seeking help when they need it. 

“I know I’ve been dissuaded from seeking services because I’m scared they’re not going to be able to fit me in,” Carmel said. “Going to the mental health town hall definitely showed me that they were kind of trying.”

The town hall stressed self-care as a coping mechanism for students who are uncomfortable seeking professional help. The panelists mentioned their own perceptions of self-care that students could easily act on such as exercising, taking care of their physical well-being, journaling and experiencing something new. 

“There’s no right or best form of self-care as long as it works for you,” assistant professor of communication Lee Pierce said in the closing remarks at the town hall. 

Interim Associate Provost for Student Success and professor of history Joe Cope said that positive mental health for students begins in the classroom. Cope encouraged professors to add mental health services to their syllabus to encourage a safe space for mental health in the classroom.

“Professors are becoming more aware of students that are struggling even though students may not seem like they’re struggling with something,” biochemistry major freshman Katrina Saylor said. “It is a problem that professors should work on to ensure the success of their students.”

Different mental health programs on campus were also emphasized during the town hall. Some of the programs mentioned in the town hall included LGBTQ+ support groups, Pathways, Living with Loss, Recognition, Insight, Openness workshops, Let’s Talk and Kognito. 

Psychology major and Pathways peer advocate senior Dominique Brown mentioned that the program helps students who are struggling with their mental health or are in a crisis.

“In Pathways, we are a peer-to-peer talk, chat and email help line for students who may just be going through some class difficulties, emotional difficulties, all the way ranging to crisis situations and having thoughts of self-harm or suicide,” Brown said. “We’re there for students as best as we can.”

Kognito is another program that Geneseo offers that provides online, interactive courses that utilize simulations that mock conversations. The program is designed to help users learn how to approach at-risk students and respond appropriately.

Crisis centers, the national suicide hotline and University Police can also aid students in mental health crises. UPD said that officers are specially trained to handle mental health crises.