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Letter to the editor

The colors of mental health

By Lalitya Andaloori and Bryan Garcia

As our school prepares to open a new Wellness Center soon, we must ensure the center is focused on promoting not just physical health, but mental health as well. We surveyed over one hundred students on campus between January and February and found that over 75% of student respondents on Auraria campus have faced a mental health crisis while attending college. If we are to confront the mental health crisis facing Auraria college students, we must take concrete steps to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially for students of color.

Although we have resources on campus to address mental health, stigma often discourages student from accessing them. Our school can address mental health stigma from day one by hosting an event at orientation where students are taught about the prevalence of mental health crises in college, and the mental health resources we have here on campus. The event should also provide students with the tools to identify a mental health crisis in themselves and their peers, and strategies to take action.

In addition to addressing stigma, we must also make the resources on campus more accessible physically. One big barrier is the confusing location of the counseling center, which is hidden on the 4th floor of Tivoli and only accessible through an isolated elevator. During orientation and campus tours, the tour guide should walk students to the center, so all students know its exact location. Additionally, the college should install better signage for the center around campus, and the counseling center should host events throughout the year to attract students and promote the importance of mental health.

Lastly, we need to address the unique mental health challenges facing students of color. We come from Indian and Hispanic families, respectively, and can speak from experience when we say that the stigma surrounding mental health is outsized. This is an experience shared by our peers. At Auraria, the students of color we surveyed reported disproportionately that the counseling center was not well equipped to address the unique mental health challenges they face due to cultural stigma. To solve this, we must ensure that future counselors are hired from diverse backgrounds to reflect the diversity of our student population. Additionally, our current counselors deserve more support in the form of cultural competency trainings, to ensure they are well equipped to meet the diverse needs of our student population.

Although there’s a lot of work to be done, we are excited to start the conversation! We are going to have a panel event, the Colors of Mental Health, to address questions and destigmatize mental health on March 7th from 11:00 am- 1:00 pm at the Tivoli Multicultural Lounge Room #261. We are excited to see you there and join us in taking action!

Lalitya Andaloori is an international student from India double majoring in Biology and Finance and minoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. She is also involved with CU Denver Future Doctors Club and Biology Club. Bryan Garcia is an out-of-state student from Dallas, Texas, majoring in Public Health.

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