Photo by Morgan Bak.
Photo by Morgan Bak.

Several on-campus support groups are available to help students struggling with mental health, but these resources haven’t always been available.

CC student David Blackett’s suicide in 2011 was the impetus for increased mental health awareness on campus.

“It really shook up the community,” said Dan Rood-Ojalvo, a junior co-facilitator of GROW, CC’s student-run mental health support group.

Blackett was one of the founders of Grow, along with Kathleen Carroll who graduated last May.  After Blackett’s death, Carroll and her partner, Brian Wray, worked tirelessly to de-stigmatize student perspectives on mental health.

Their efforts were bolstered by a $50,000 endowment given in Blackett’s name to assist mental health projects.

“Kathleen and Brian were super involved with the local community, especially with NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness]. They recognized that we can make situations worse by jumping in unprepared and took courses to be effective student leaders,” said Rood-Ojalvo.

Now in its eighth year, GROW has anywhere from 10 to 25 student attendees at each Monday night meeting, according to junior and co-facilitator Emily Spiegel. That’s a significant increase from the six people, including facilitators, who regularly attended when Spiegel was a freshman.

“Student perspectives on mental health have absolutely improved since I’ve been at CC. People are pointing others to resources and revealing that they have used them, too,” said Spiegel.

According to a 2011 report on mental health undergone by the college, 78 percent of CC students identified as “feeling hopeless, sad, or empty” during their time at the college. Of the surveyed population, only 30 percent of students sought on-campus counseling, while 19 percent sought off-campus counseling.

The survey will be distributed again this year, and may provide different feedback than the 2011 survey due to an expanded on-campus mental health support system.

In addition to GROW and its eating disorder-focused equivalent HIPS, he Wellness Resource Center and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) were both positions created out of student advocacy for improved mental health institutions.

In addition to a myriad of on-campus resources, Spiegel emphasized the availability of off-campus options as an alternative option.

“You can get a taxi ride to an off-campus doctor,” Spiegel said. “They’ll charge it to your student account, but if you have financial need, the college will pick up the cost.”

Both Rood-Ojalvo and Spiegel agreed that strategies for maintaining good mental health vary from individual to individual.

“You have to find what works best for you,” said Rood-Ojalvo. “I think opening this place up to conversation, even if it can’t solve all the problems, is a huge first step.”

Mallory Shipe

Staff Writer

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