UCC event fosters conversations around mental health and community issues


GVL / Samuel Nelson

Jonathan Carroll, Staff Writer

The University Counseling Center (UCC) at Grand Valley State University is hosting an event series focused on social factors that impact the health and healthcare of people in the United States. The event will discuss how inequality in health plays a role in people’s lives.

This event is a seven-part video series that takes place in Kirkhof Center, and has been held once a month since September. During the event, student staff from the UCC play portions of a PBS documentary titled “Unnatural Causes: is inequality making us sick?which covers a range of topics based on inequality such as race, gender, socioeconomic status and geography. 

Emily Murray and Bella Griesmaier were the two student presenters from the UCC at the Feb. 16 event. Murray and Griesmaier spoke about how public and mental health should be looked at from the perspectives of the communities people live in. Their presentation tied into the topics discussed in the documentary, which focused on how policies and investment decisions can harm or enhance communities. 

After watching episode five of the documentary called “place matters,” students gathered into groups to talk about discussion questions relating the material back to their own communities and at GVSU. 

The UCC hopes to use the program to offer more opportunities for students to get involved. 

“If anybody’s interested in a certain club or anything like that about this topic, we do have outreach requests on the counseling center website so that any group can request to have us come in and maybe do something with these videos like we would do at this event,” Murray said. 

The UCC aims to create a healthy environment for student growth through various mental health services, offering even those beyond typical mental health resources. 

“We want to collaborate with the entire GV community and show like, ‘Hey, high stress can be caused by the area you’re living in,’” Griesmaier said. “Reach out to us, reach out to the other offices around GV and hopefully coordinate a larger movement of well-being.” 

The UCC continues to hold these events so students understand the factors that impact their own health and recognize when help is needed. They want to cover topics that aren’t typically addressed in order to create change on campus. They hope students can use these events to have the space to focus on learning and build a supportive community. 

The UCC has two more events in this seven-part documentary series within the next two months.

The center will also hold other outreach events like yoga and “Let’s Talk” events which give students the opportunity to talk to counselors one-on-one and seek professional advice.

Other events can be found on the UCC website.