For the second year in a row, Cuesta College is taking steps to bring mental health awareness to both students and the public, specifically regarding the issues stigmatized in today’s college population. The college’s Student Mental Health Program, along with the student-run Active Minds Club, is organizing the 2014 Mental Health Awareness Week, scheduled for April 1-3, on the San Luis Obispo campus.  The title, “Let’s Talk About Stigma,” is intended to give the week a concrete purpose.

“Stigma is at the root of discrimination and why people don’t feel safe reaching out for help,” said Cuesta College Wellness Arts Program Coordinator Kelsey Kehoe. “If we talk about stigma and increase students’ awareness, then we hope to put an end to discrimination by both others and the self.”

The following events are scheduled:

Tuesday, April 1: Issues of Violence Workshop. Put on by the Student Health Center, this workshop is for Cuesta students only and will feature a victim support panel featuring representatives from the Women’s Shelter, RISE, the District Attorney’s Victim/Witness Assistance Center, Sheriff’s Department, Cuesta College Police Department and Cal Poly’s Safer Program. The event will take place in building 5400, room 5401, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 2: Mental Health Wellness Fair. The fair will bring campus and community mental health resources together in one central location.  Campus resources include DSPS, EOPS, Student Health Center, Associated Students of Cuesta College, and the student clubs Active Minds and Gay Straight Alliance.  Community resources include Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA), SLO County Behavioral Health Services, Cal Poly Counseling Center, the Vet Center, and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The event will take place in the Flagpole Courtyard from 12:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. 

Wednesday & Thursday, April 2 & 3: Clothesline Project by Safer, Cal Poly’s primary resource for addressing sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. The project is an awareness installation that will focus on both sexual assault awareness and the stigma and discrimination involved with sexual assault and mental illness. “People walking by can expect to see a large clothesline type structure with shirts hanging that have students’ stories of their own experiences via either words or images,” said Kehoe. “Students will have a chance to decorate a shirt on-site and then hang it up on Wednesday and Thursday while the installation is up.” The installations will remain up during the course of both days on the Flagpole Courtyard lawn.

Thursday, April 3: “In Our Own Voice,” a showing of the film by the TMHA and NAMI. The film unmasks mental illness, using speaker stories to illustrate the individual realities of living with mental illness. The showing will run from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. in building 5400, room 5401.

In July 2012, Cuesta College was awarded a two-year, $154,543 grant to pay for workshops, web-based training and resources to aid faculty and staff who serve students with mental health challenges.  The campus-based grant is through the California Community College Student Mental Health Program, a partnership between the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Foundation for Community Colleges. 

The college’s Wellness Arts Program is funded through a Proposition 63 grant and Innovation Funding.  It is a 2-unit Academic Support course that teaches the fundamentals of mental wellness in the college environment. Each lecture is paired with a therapeutic art project that helps further facilitate the information taught. The program is geared toward students who struggle with anxiety, depression, social phobia or intrusive thoughts.  

Lauren Milbourne / (805) 546-3108 / / Posted: 4/2/14