Mental health wellness workshops continue this spring

Originally written for The Northern Light.

At the halfway mark of the semester, many students are trying to balance school, work, friends and family. However, wearing oneself thin can lead to depression, anxiety and stress. UAA’s Student Health and Counseling Center is offering spring semester workshops that focus on different aspects of mental health and strategies to maintain a healthy mind.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, 75 percent of mental health conditions begin by age 24. Understanding and talking about mental health is easily accessible through the SHCC.

The SHCC is offering drop-in workshops that inform and guide students through depression, stress and anxiety management, test anxiety, ADHD, suicide prevention and coping skills.

“The focus is on educational workshops as oppose to a support group. These are meant to inform students that they can come in and spend an hour, get some good information and start to feel like they have some strategies or skills that they can use depending on what their concern is,” Georgia DeKeyser, director and psychiatric nurse practitioner for the SHCC, said.

Last spring semester, the SHCC had a few workshops on test anxiety and anxiety and management. With a growth of attendance for these workshops, the counseling center wanted to expand their topics addressing other mental health issues.

“Some people, depending upon their personalities, like the one-on-one interaction behind closed doors, but other people are maybe comfortable in a group learning environment where information can be shared and received,” Jennifer Jepson, mental health counselor for the SHCC, said. “When other people are in the class and are nodding at the same time their nodding, then it’s a shared experience.”

This spring, the workshops are four times throughout the semester on varied days to accommodate student schedules.

Not only do these workshops inform and suggest mental health issues and healthy coping skills against stress, anxiety and ADHD, the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention workshop helps students to communicate effectively to those who are at risk of suicide.

In 2003, the Division of Behavioral Health of the State of Alaska awarded UAA a grant that funded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to create programs regarding suicide prevention.

In order to further educate UAA students, the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention workshop is open to anyone in the community that is interested in talking about suicide prevention.

“These are all toolbox classes. The mission of the health center is to help students be academically successful through the provision of health care. Part of health care is wellness and prevention,” DeKeyser said.

For more information about the SHCC workshops’ dates and times, call 907-786-4040.

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