2019 Beat the Blues Week Inspires Students to Hold on to Hope
“Life doesn’t stop happening when you go to school,” said Paulette-Theresa Schechtel, staff psychologist for CSUN’s University Counseling Services (UCS).
This statement rings true for a multitude of Matadors, who frequently experience overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety when balancing school and personal life.
Schechtel spoke at “Understanding Anxiety and How to Cope,” a mental health workshop that accompanied a series of events and workshops aimed at addressing students’ well-being from Nov. 12 to Nov. 15 during Beat the Blues Week at CSUN. Beat the Blues Week is hosted by The Blues Project, a campus peer program dedicated to suicide prevention through promoting depression awareness and education.
This year, Blues Project peer educators revolved the weeklong program around the theme “Holding Onto Hope.” One way of encouraging students to do just that is to inform them of on-campus services geared toward their overall wellbeing.
A resource fair tabling event helped kick off Beat the Blues Week last Tuesday, Nov. 12 in the University Student Union where facilities like the Pride Center, University Counseling Services and the Oasis Wellness Center showcased mental and physical health services accessible to CSUN students, faculty and staff. CSUN also has one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions available.
Mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health, which is why peer education programs like Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE) attended to raise awareness on body image and prevention of eating disorders.
“Here at JADE we try to spread body positivity and self-care,” said CSUN psychology student and student peer educator, Eduardo Nevarez. “We want students to know that there are resources and help to address these serious issues.”
Apart from information, the tabling event offered music, free pizza and even had therapy dogs available to pet and cuddle.
All the fun drew fourth-year CSUN psychology student Arleen Curiel, who learned about services she was previously unaware of. “Here at CSUN they provide counseling, which is amazing to me,” said Curiel. “It’s included in our tuition and I didn’t know our campus offered that. I think that if more people knew about it, more people would be doing it.”
Bringing Matadors up to speed on services and assistance that cater to their physical and mental wellbeing was the main objective of the fair.
“I think it’s important for us to have this event to spread more awareness across campus, whether it’s students, faculty or staff to make sure that they’re cared for and that they can come and access resources on our campus and get the help they need” said Steven Wang, Peer Programs coordinator.
A total of 11 workshops were hosted throughout the week by peer educators on a variety of topics dealing with mental health and physical well-being, such as creating a healthy relationship with social media, therapy expectations and coping with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
At the “Understanding Anxiety and How to Cope” workshop, held at the Granada Hills Room Thursday, Nov. 14, Schechtel provided attendees with the tools they need to identify, measure and manage stress.
Workshop participants were asked to share their stress triggers with one another as well as how they monitor them. Schechtel advocated for positive coping mechanisms and seeking counseling when stress becomes too overwhelming as a means to prevent self-harm or suicide.
“You’re valuable,” said Schechtel. “We lose a part of humanity we no longer have if we lose you. We need you.”
Second-year CSUN sociology student Jacqueline Gomez attended the workshop to learn new ways to keep her anxiety and stress in check.
“I definitely think anxiety is common,” said Gomez. “Statistics alone show that college students all pretty much suffer from anxiety, so it’s not something that just one person goes through.”
Beat the Blues Week came to a close with a candlelight vigil on the evening of Nov. 15 to honor lives lost to suicide. Students, faculty and community members gathered at the Sierra Quad to hold a candle in memory of those who have passed on, as well as share their own experiences with mental illnesses, such as depression.
An intimate gathering of students, family and community members braved the cold for the candlelight vigil Friday evening. It was a safe space for people to share their experiences with depression and honor the memory of lives lost to suicide.
CSUN students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit University Counseling Services, located on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall, in person, or to check out the University Counseling Services website, for resources to help manage their mental health.