Since our founding over three years ago, the Mental Health Peer Interns have played a vital role in student mental health services by developing mental health related programming for UCSB students. Working under the supervision of the Assistant Coordinator of Student Mental Health Services in the Dean of Students Office, our focus includes reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, increasing awareness of UCSB support for students experiencing mental health difficulties, and highlighting the importance of seeking help and support. Over the course of a typical year our programming encompasses awareness campaigns, student events, and outreach activities. In addition, we assist with research on mental health issues, implementation of on-going intervention and prevention strategies and other administrative projects. In 2009, the Mental Health Peer Interns became a registered UCSB student organization and we began to partner with other mental health and wellness related student organizations on campus to achieve common goals and share our message with as many students as possible.
As mental health peer interns, we have the privilege to be advocates for students seeking information about mental health resources. We educate students about mental health illnesses and symptoms while promoting a proactive approach to mental health. To foster the development of an open and aware campus community we host events, campaigns, and workshops that educate students about mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and explain where to seek help when fighting them.
One of the most striking statistics tells that 1 in every 7 college students suffers from depression or another mental health disorder. As interns, we work to influence that one student to seek the help they need. We also work to educate the other six, as mental illness affects us all. An important lesson us interns have learned is that, although a student may not be suffering from an illness his/herself, they are often a friend, roommate, classmate, or ally of someone who is. We encourage students to seek help as soon as possible and how to be a true friend when a friend is in need.
We try to SPEAK UP and STAND UP against the stigma commonly experienced by those suffering with a mental illness. We hope to change the conversation around mental health on our campus so those that need help feel safe seeking it. We hope that our efforts help those students suffering in silence and those around them as well.
Collaborating with other student led groups and organizations like the Wellness Interns and Active Minds, we have increased awareness about campus resources and helped to minimized the number of students who may be suffering in silence. Tabling at several events this academic year has been quite an experience. Students consistently approach our table with all kinds of questions, questions that we are working to answer and normalize. Students have many questions about mental health and this gives us hope that students are starting to talk about this historically taboo topic.
We believe that mental health awareness is on the rise, but that there is still stigma that we must work to eliminate. UCSB is a place with a unique culture and diverse students. We feel that students at UCSB are well rounded and want the best for their friends and loved ones. We work to help students know where to go, who to call, and how to respond when they encounter a friend in need.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Sean Vernon Feliciano Amazing Day Foundation, a Greek Mental Health Intern position was created this year. The Greek Mental Health Intern specializes in outreach to the UCSB Greek community and acts as a liaison to the Greek Community and the Mental Health Peer Intern program. In addition to workshops and other programming and events, the Greek Intern has worked to revitalize the Greek Resource Liaison program which educates and provides training for the student resource liaisons that each fraternity and sorority on campus is required to appoint.
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Mental Health Peer Interns 2010-2011
Greek Mental Health Intern 2010-2011
Supervisor/Assistant Coordinator of Student Mental Health Services