A group formerly known as “Allies” encourages students who are passionate about mental health issues to join the group and raise mental health awareness on campus.
In the fall of 2015, Kasidi Gorneau, junior advertising and public relations pre-law major from Glen Rose, created a mental health awareness group on campus.
“I am extremely passionate about mental health because I have loved ones who have battled with it as well as myself, so I can personally say that mental illnesses are just as serious as physical ones,” Gorneau said.
Since last fall, the group saw a growth in members and planned more activities for this semester. The first event will be volunteering at a suicide awareness walk in April.
“This semester what we’re really trying to accomplish is to set our foundation for the next few years and get a good member base,” Gorneau said. “And make it a comfortable place for students to come and educate themselves on what they can do if they have been struggling with mental health issues or if they know someone who is struggling with mental health issues.”
The group had to change its name after discovering the name had been taken by a LGBTQ group.
Cleo Sansing, a junior graphic design major from San Antonio and a member of the mental health awareness group, said mental heath issues are easily overlooked.
“The group is an accepting and supportive place,” Sansing said. “The fact that we have an outlet and that we can talk about our experiences is really nice.”
Sansing mentioned dealing with anxiety and said she felt like she didn’t need help from the Counseling Center. However, after noticing that a lot of her friends were there too, she realized it was not a bad idea to get help.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), compared to older adults, the 18- to 24-year-old age group shows the lowest rate of help-seeking.
“We are sponsored by some counselors from the counseling center,” Sansing said. “They came and talked to us and said that being there they see a lot more people than you would think they do.”
According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), an estimated 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older – or about 1 in 4 adults – live with a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year.
Haley Jones, a junior family studies major from Waco, explains the group as a safe place to be yourself and a group without labels.
She wanted to be involved because of her struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. She said last year was really tough after her cousin, Colby McDaniel, a freshman at ACU, and two other family members passed away.
“I’ve come a long way and just being able to talk about it and being open about it has been good,” Jones said. “I’m passionate about mental health education, support and advocacy for people who struggle with mental health issues.”
Jones said she wants other people to understand the importance of mental health issues and have a proper acceptance of a growing issue. However, she does advise that they are not licensed professionals except for their faculty advisors who are trained professionals.
The group is still trying to become an official student organization on campus and does not have a set meeting schedule.
“We are just looking to grow together in Christ, have fun, educate the public, really make some firm friendships and help others” Gorneau said.
The group invites anyone who is passionate about mental health issues. Students interested in joining the mental health awareness group can contact Gorneau at email@example.com.