Your Voice Matters event focuses on mental health resources for students

by Aretha Matsushima, Staff Writer

Your Voice Matters, a campaign run through Associated Students, held a forum for students and faculty on April 15 to discuss mental health and the resources available in collaboration with San Diego State’s Mental Health Week.

The goal of the campaign is to get students to speak out and make a change on campus. The student-run program strives to get feedback on how students feel they can best be served, according to the campaign’s webpage.

The forum was held in Montezuma Hall where students were able to ask questions and be informed by faculty on the different departments such as the Economic Crisis Response Team, Well-Being and Health Promotion and Counseling and Psychological Services.

Director of Well-Being and Health Promotion Stephanie Waits Galia said there are currently many resources available to support students’ mental health, allowing the department to grow over time.

“By starting many initiatives, getting out there has allowed us to evolve,” Galia said.

ECRT Director Brianna Douglas said students who are going through an economic crisis can be assisted through a variety of options for different situations such as food insecurity, housing, financial assistance and healthcare. Requests can be submitted online through email or applied for at the Well-Being and Health Clinic.

“Students with food insecurity can get groceries through Calfresh or the Aztec Food Pantry as well as cooking classes that provide a full meal,” Douglas said. “The services are very underutilized. We do have many students enrolled, but we could definitely have more.”

Galia added the department also can help students financially with job hunting and financial aid.

“We are able to establish connections to many on campus jobs and build resumes or interview skills,” Galia said. “We also work closely with financial aid, helping students to figure out loans, grants and possible donors.”

Marketing freshman Kiera Broadhurst said the discussion had showed the importance of mental health and supporting students.

“It’s good to continue the conversation as the world is changing and it is very eye-opening,” Broadhurst said. “There were good points by the faculty and staff, it showed that students are viewed more as a whole.”

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Jennifer Rikard said he department offers counseling services with highly-trained therapists, drop-in hours and new peer-to-peer wellness programs.

“We want to emphasize to the community that it is in the job description to listen and care about the needs of students,” Rikard said.

Galia said the stigma behind mental health seems to be decreasing over time as she sees more people reaching out for help.

“People are starting to talk more about mental health,” Galia said. “I’m really seeing more people reach out that are usually behind closed doors.”

Communication freshman Emma Bruno said the forum was helpful for students to get reliable answers to personal questions about services available.

“People can have a voice and ask questions that they have and weren’t able to ask,” Bruno said. “They are able to get answers through professional opinions.”