GV highlights mental health awareness


GVL | Melia Williams

Melia Williams, Staff Writer

Members of multiple organizations at Grand Valley State University took part in special events to promote students’ mental health with Mental Health Awareness Week. 

From Monday Sept. 12 to Friday Sept. 16, this student-led event focused on a different topic every day in order to spread awareness of mental health. Monday began the week with ‘Mindfulness Monday.’

“We are encouraging students to come and take resources, we have a little ‘braincation’ QR code that takes you to University Counseling Center, meditations and mindfulness practices,” said Isabella Griesmaier, who was handing out information at the event. “We’re also inviting students to go into the LGBTQ Resource Center to relax, spend some time in their probably busy day and look over some of these tips we have.”

The QR code that was available for students to scan had a video definition of what mindfulness is and a number of videos on meditation. Multiple online and audio tools are still available on the website to help students with whatever they are struggling with whether that is anger, anxiety, self-confidence or grief. 

“I think that you can never be too adamant about advocating for people’s wellness,” Griesmaier said. “It’s really easy to forget, especially with the semester already being underway. We really wanted to just make an effort in the beginning of the school year.”

The week carried on with ‘Self-Care Tuesday,’ where over 300 mental health stickers were handed out. 

“Students were happy to be seen and heard,” said Cameron Lindsay, organizer of Mental Health Awareness Week. 

Students were excited to see the therapy dogs at the event along with the numerous journal prompts that were offered. This event gave students a chance to voice their feelings to their peers. Lindsay said it was encouraging to see how many students were using the tools they provided to check in on one another. 

On Wednesday Lindsay and her peers, Maddie Olsen and Megan Hieronymus, were back at the clocktower welcoming students with music, stickers and more fliers to approach the table as part of the Community Resource Fair. 

“The goal for today was to get as many people as possible to show the most amount of care for the students as possible,” Lindsay said. 

Lindsay said it’s important that organizations on campus such as the LGBT Center, the University Counseling Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and RecWell are all implementing mental health and holistic health practices so that students know that they are supported in each of these areas. 

A large part of the community resource fair was to help students find options on what to do and who to go to if they feel like their mental health isn’t in the best place. 

“(The community resource fair) also gives you the resources and the knowledge to equip yourself so that if your mental health is in a challenging state, and you’re looking at it and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘maybe I need some more help,’ you know who to go to and who to ask,” Lindsay said. 

Students were given resources to help both on and off campus. It was emphasized at the event that mental health is something that constantly needs work. 

“Mental health is like pulling weeds and planting seeds,” Lindsay said. 

Mental Health Awareness Week continued on into Thursday with the art showcase in the Grand River Room of Kirkhoff Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. GVSU students were given the opportunity to submit any form of artwork that could tell a story about their mental health whether it is a painting, poem, drawing or anything else of that nature. 

“Tonight, none of us are alone,” Lindsay said in her introduction speech before the show. “None of us are ignored. None of us are unseen or heard. Tonight, we are joined by art.” 

However, because there were not enough student reservations, the gallery was canceled. Event planners shifted their focus to the final event.

Mental Health Awareness week wrapped up on Friday with a ‘Spread the Word’ event at the clocktower. Students were given the opportunity to write letters of encouragement and positivity to hand out to fellow students. Students also spoke about what mental health means to them. 

“Just letting people know that there’s somebody who cares because a lot of the time in college you feel so isolated,” said GVSU student Illy Taylor. “Knowing that someone is in your corner is such a great thing, it’s much needed to check in more than we do.”

The students did a small loop around campus to place and hand out the notes that were full of positive affirmations. The walk included a moment of silence for those that have passed due to mental health. 

“Research has proven that your mental health really does get better when you help other people,” Lindsay said.