What you missed at SGA: mental health, campus resources discussed

November 23, 2020

Outside+the+Student+Union+during+fall.

Billy Keeney

Outside the Student Union during fall.

At its last official meeting of business for the semester, guest speakers presented to SGA members about mental health, student engagement and campus resources.

Student Health and Wellness Center needs more outreach, diversity, students say

Dr. Nivedita Vaidya, co-chair of NKU’s Mental Health Advisory Group, attended the meeting to speak to SGA members about  mental health resources on campus. Vaidya asked a series of questions in order to receive feedback on how to improve student engagement with the mental health services, such as the Health, Counseling and Student Wellness Center.

While many SGA members agreed that mental health is a topic often discussed in their other organizations and peer circles, most have not received any formal training or programming from the Wellness Center. 

President Lauren Goodwin said she, like many other students, have felt like receiving counseling is still stigmatized to the point where it can discourage utilization of those services. In response to a separate question posed by Vaidya, Goodwin said students can also feel discouraged to reach out to advisors and faculty members about mental health concerns because faculty are required to report certain issues when told by a student.

Student Aliya Cannon, who is also the president of NKU’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, said students of color may also experience an additional level of hesitation to utilize the counseling service. 

“From the Black community’s perspective, sometimes we don’t really have the opportunity or the programs that are put on don’t really speak to our community, so we don’t have an urge to go to them,” Cannon said. 

Vaidya said she has heard similar comments from NKU R.O.C.K.S. and the advisory group will try to incorporate programs and outreach initiatives for different communities. 

Student Anna Marie Adams, a R.O.C.K.S. mentor, also shared her experience as a student of color who seeked counseling services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was virtual and she had felt the counselor “just wasn’t there,” which didn’t result in an effective experience for her.

“Also, being an African American woman talking to a Caucasian woman, it just felt like there was a boundary there,” Adams said. 

She discontinued further sessions with that counselor because she felt like it was not helpful to her.

Vaidya asked the attendees how to encourage students to utilize these programs. Several SGA members suggested that awareness should be spread through social media. The formation of a peer ambassador group for mental health services was also suggested by multiple attendees.

Vaidya also asked for suggestions on how to improve traffic to the Wellness Center’s website. 

Cannon suggested the use of more images and student testimonials would make the website seem more inviting to students, which several SGA members agreed with. 

Vaidya said the testimonials were a good idea, but there are concerns with upholding student privacy that could stall that feature. Students would need to give consent to publish their name. Senator Trevor Abraham said he has used the counseling service multiple times and he would be willing to share his experience. 

Vaidya said the group would take these suggestions into serious consideration. 

A website to link all NKU services in the works

Dr. Jessica Averitt Taylor, FUEL NKU founder, has partnered with multiple administrators to create a new website for campus resources and asked for feedback from SGA members.

“I think that it can be a little difficult to navigate the resources offered at NKU, especially from the perspective of a student,” Taylor said. “I’ve been here eight years and I’m still learning where to find things and what all we offer.”

The website, which is currently in its pilot stage and is not open to the public yet, would collect multiple resources for students such as the IT Help Desk, TRIO Student Support Services, FUEL NKU and others.

Taylor presented the website via screen sharing for SGA members to see what it would look like. She then asked for attendees to give suggestions on what other resources should be linked or how the website should look for easy navigation and friendly aesthetics.

Cannon suggested that offices such as the LGBTQ+ Programs and Services and African American Student Initiatives should also be linked within the website, which several SGA members agreed with. 

Abraham also suggested the inclusion of the office of Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy. Taylor agreed and said she would recommend that to the administrators. 

Many senators also offered different suggestions for the layout of the website.

Taylor encouraged the attendees to write their suggestions in a document that was shared during the meeting and she would present those comments to the other administrators early next week. 

At the end of the meeting, several senators encouraged attendance for the final SGA event of the semester. The townhall is co-presented by the Norse Violence Prevention Center and is titled “Reclaiming Survivorship.” It will be broadcasted over Zoom on Monday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m.

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