Counseling Services hosts Holistic Mental Health


Haljit BasuljevicReporter

As a part of spreading awareness, Southern’s Counseling Services and a slew of other departments hosted the Holistic Mental Health Fair in Engleman Hall last week.

“We always want ways to reach out to students, and knowing that Michael Phelps is going to come, we wanted to have a series of things leading to it knowing that mental health was going to be highlighted,” said Mary Xatse, a Programming and Outreach graduate intern here at Southern.

She said that following the film screening, she wanted students to integrate themselves within the campus community and understand the various resources that supported mental health. All the tables that each club accompanied filled the interior of the large room in B121, and each had their own distinct approach to dealing with mental health.

One of the tables was hosted by Registered Dietitian Courtney Huggins. Her table had small bowls of chocolate covered almonds, walnuts and raisins, amongst other small foods. A stack of small plastic bags were also provided for guests and a spoon to scoop the food with. Who said that healthier foods, like veggies and fruits, can contribute to a higher sense of energy and well-being. She said that for some people, the go for outlet to a stressful day may be a surplus of sugar fill dishes of cake and the like. This, she said, can lead to a life-risking world of adverse effects.

She said that although one should stay away from unhealthy foods for optimal physical and mental health, forcing oneself to do so can also have a detrimental effect.

“You don’t have to beat yourself up”, said Huggins, who added that having portion-sized meals for everything makes up for the irresistible urge craving that comes from trying to entirely avoid, for example, sweets. Moderation is key.

The connection between physical and mental-health also took another route through the ‘sexpert’ table. Family Nurse Practitioner Christa Mann said that most schools may not have sex education classes and the knowledge gap can lead them to misassumptions.

“[A mental health problem] doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone in different ways whether it affects them personally or they know someone who has it,” said Xatse when asked about the issues surrounding mental health. “There are just so many things here for students, and I think a lot of them may have heard it before, but never had an interaction where they can ask just questions. This is a time and space where they can do it.”

Joey Irizarry, an SCSU Fitness Center worker pursuing his master’s degree in athletic administration, stated that there are classes that students can sign up for if they want a start in exercising or even yoga, which can be soothing and reduces even anxiety.

“Students usually get stressed out cause of too much work. Exercise is one of the biggest benefits we have here,” said Irizarry. “It takes your mind off the next couple hours of school. It takes your mind off the homework you have to do.”

With a public forum, Xatse sees the fair as conducive for students to not only learn about mental health, but for those who have those issues to not feel lost or afraid of asking questions. She said she wishes for Southern’s efforts to help eliminate the stigma and misconceptions that sufferers usually have.

“[Anyone] can ask for help…whether it’s going to counseling or joining a club. I think there is a rise in awareness, and there’s also a rise of people saying, ‘We need to do more’,” said Xatse.

Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo

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