Ending the stigma: You Matter Week at UNI

EMMA'LE MAAS, Executive Editor

This week, Jan. 27 to 31, is You Matter Week at UNI. Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) has teamed up with Active Minds, Black Student Union, To Write Love on Her Arms and UNI Counseling Services to put on this week’s events.

The event was launched in the fall of 2016 after the loss of several students to suicide. In the years following, You Matter Week was not able to be held again, until now.

Sarah Rasing, a grad student and NISG Director of Mental Health, helped coordinate the events so they could be held this year and hopefully annually.

“If one person on this campus was feeling alone, as I was my first year, they might see these events. They might step out of their comfort zone and attend one. They might start to feel a little less alone and connected to the people that follow through with the idea of You Matter at UNI,”
Rasing said.

Brian Nissen, suicide prevention educator at UNI, emphasizes the importance of students to the university.

“I just want at the end of the week to say, ‘We reached a lot of people and made a difference,’” he said.

On Monday, NISG will be tabling for Mental Health Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside of Chats in Maucker Union and will hold Mental Health Ally Training Part 1 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Maucker Union Presidential Room.

On Tuesday, Active Minds speaker Abraham Sculley, a West Florida graduate from 2019, will be speaking in the Maucker Union Ballroom from 6 to 8 p.m. According to the Active Minds website, Sculley suffered with his mental health during his undergraduate career and uses his experience to
advocate against the stigma to get help. Sculley travels with Active Minds to speak at campuses across the nation about his experience, in hopes to educate and relate to
students much like himself.

On Wednesday, there will be Mental Health Ally Training Part 2 from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Maucker Union Presidential Room, QPR Training from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Rod Library 287 and the Cocoa & Counseling Open House 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Counseling Center.

Jennifer Schneiderman, director of counseling
services at UNI, will host Wednesday’s open house of the Counseling Center. Schneiderman said she enjoys the open house the most because she likes that students get to explore somewhere they may have been previously scared to and find that the counselors “are actually really relatable and easy to talk to.”

On Thursday, there will be another Mental Health Ally Training Part 1 session from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Maucker Union Presidential Room, followed by Part 2 at from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. A viewing and discussion panel of “Resilience” will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Maucker Union ballroom.

On Friday, To Write Love On Her Arms will host a Positive Messaging Event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Maucker Union. You Matter Week’s events will conclude with Men and Mental Health Training from 2 to 4 p.m. in Rod Library 287.

Jacob Levang, senior business management major and NISG student body president, will be tabling for the week’s events. Levang is passionate about the events and credits them for his own personal mental health journey.

“Last year, I had the opportunity to attend and get to know the counselors on a personal level which really helped take away some of the fearfulness of using the center for me,” he said.

For students like Levang, the stigma surrounding mental health is why these events are so helpful to the student body community.

“This week is so important because as college students, so many of us -— including myself — struggle with mental health. Coming together as a campus to talk about the issue and the resources that are available goes such a long way,” Levang said.

Nissen echoed this message, adding how important these events are to him as faculty.

“It’s a reminder to the university and the students that the students are what make UNI,” he said.