Wellness, Diversity Commissioners host events for Suicide Awareness Month


Students learn about wellness initiatives at Gunn

Every year in September, mental health organizations advocate for increased awareness and advocacy for those suffering from mental illness in recognition of Suicide Awareness Month. This year, Gunn’s Student Executive Council (SEC) plans to spread more awareness about suicide prevention throughout the month by organizing a health fair and mental health panel.

By exposing students to resources like Alcove, Real hopes that more students will reach out for help when they need it. Mental health is a spectrum and we’re all in it,” she said.

Mental health is a spectrum and we’re all in it

— Wellness Commisoner Kirsten Real

SEC Wellness Commissioner Kirsten Real worked with the Wellness Center to plan a health fair which was held on Sep. 21 on the senior quad during lunch. During the fair, students had the opportunity to learn about the resources available to them at Gunn. “Hopefully this fair answered some of those questions, and throughout the year, we will double down on them,” Real said. 

The health fair also provided information on local resources outside of Gunn that are available to students. One resource that was included in the fair’s presentations was Allcove, a mental health center located on Middlefield Road, which is only a short bike ride from Gunn. “You can get anything from a psychiatrist to birth control, any health services as well as peer support or therapists,” Real said. “It’s really cool because you don’t have to pay at all. It’s just a waiver that you have to sign and it’s all taken care of.” By exposing students to resources like Alcove, Real hopes that more students will reach out for help when they need it. “Mental health is a spectrum and we’re all in it,” she said. “Even if you’re struggling or not struggling, it’s good to know that these services do exist.”

The diversity commissioners are planning a mental health panel on Sept. 28 during Prime centered on Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC). Students can sign up for the panel through Flexisched. Diversity Commissioner Chania Rene-Corail explained how the panel will run. “We’re going to be asking them questions about how your race, ethnicity or how your culture might affect how you choose to access mental health resources,” Rene-Corail said. Several of the panelists work on mental health initiatives around campus, including Gunn Mental Health and Wellness Specialist Michelle Ramos. Rene-Corail hopes that by having panelists from Gunn, students will know who these people are and who they can reach out to if they ever need to.

In addition to the BIPOC panel, the Diversity Commissioners are also planning to release a podcast on Spotify later in the month, with speakers focused in certain communities. “[The podcast] would be more specific to Asian American communities…and also accessibility and injustice is in the mental health system,” Rene-Corail said. “So how people of color are treated and how inaccessible it can be to some.” Rene-Corail emphasized that it’s harder for certain communities to access mental health resources for various reasons. “There’s a lot of communities of color for one reason or another have a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health and mental health resources,” she said. “Having that stigma makes it much harder for people from these communities to take that step and go and reach out.” 

Suicide prevention awareness and protective factors at Gunn are Real’s biggest goals this year, and she hopes that by putting up these events for students, they are able to see the importance of mental health. “[Whether we’re] posting on social media or putting protective factors on campus, we’re really just making Gunn more a more positive environment,” she said.