You matter at UNI week



The Student Health Center houses a variety of resources for students to utilize. The Health Center is located near the Schindler Education Building and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


The Student Health & Well-being Coordinator and UNI Counseling Center are partnering to bring You Matter At UNI week back to campus Feb. 27-March 3. This initiative hopes to help students build connections, recognize their worth, celebrate diversity and encourage knowledge and use of campus resources. 

Student Health and Well-Being Coordinator Kaili Benham highlights that colleges and universities everywhere are seeing an increase in mental health needs amongst students. “We want to assure all students, no matter their background or identity, that they matter,” she says. “Whether that is learning how to manage their stress by progressive muscle relaxation or learning productive coping skills, accessing our recreation facilities, or visiting our counseling center or utilizing our crisis hotline (319-273-2676 and press 2), we just want them to understand what and who is there to help them because they matter.”

Riley Rodemaker, a masters student in mental health counseling and graduate assistant at the UNI Counseling Center, remembers when You Matter week started during his undergrad. 

“The You Matter initiative was started a handful of years ago by the (former) NISG (Northern Iowa Student Government) Student Body President as a way of helping students become aware of resources on campus while also encouraging mental health awareness and connectedness,” he says. “I remember feeling that it was a great idea and being proud that my university would promote an entire week advocating for mental health resources and awareness.”

During this week, there will be daily on-campus activities during a “Lunch and Learn” period, featuring topics such as gratitude and self compassion, non-western mind and body healing, managing stress techniques,and diversity and mental health discussions. There will be a variety of informational tables in Maucker Union throughout the week as well as the Student Health Advisory Committee’s annual jean display promoting body positivity. 

The counseling center will also be hosting a few mental health training sessions for people to complete. To see all of the events and their times, make sure to check social media for updates. There will also be some additional remote opportunities to participate.

An  Expression Competition will start a week before the designated You Matter week. Submissions of art/media that inspire others or are inspired by themes of this initiative are encouraged to be sent in! Further information will be released on the UNI website. A to-be-determined prize will be awarded to the winner as well. 

You can also get involved by participating in a social media challenge. After tagging @unisws, @uni_couns and #YouMatter@UNI, the best post of each day will be chosen and given a prize. Monday’s challenge is to post a tribute of someone you’ve connected with on campus that has helped you feel a sense of belonging. Tuesday encourages students to seek out and post a place, event, memory, or person at UNI that encourages and celebrates diversity. 

Wednesday hopes to bring everyone out of their shell with a prompt to meet a new person and post a picture together. 

Thursday’s challenge is to post a picture of a random act of kindness you complete. And finally on Friday, post a picture representing a campus resource that benefits your mental health. 

NISG, SHAC, Active Minds and athletics have also come together to launch the Green Bandana Project at UNI during this week. This project aims to work against stigmas, raise awareness of mental health needs, prevent suicide and reinforce solidarity. Most importantly, it supplies VAR training to students to learn how to deal with sensitive and tough situations.

“Our hope is that students make some new connections during the week by participating in our activities,” Benham says. “Building new connections helps grow our support networks, develop positive social and communication skills and can help build our sense of belonging.”

Rodemaker hopes that participants of You Matter Week events will not only have fun but also learn about resources that are readily available to them and others.  

“I hope they are also able to take comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their struggles with their mental health by celebrating the diversity of other’s unique experiences. The more conversations we can have about mental health, the more people that we can talk to about resources, the more people whose lives we may be able to change.” Rodemaker says.