Mental Health Awareness
This academic school year has been overwhelming for everyone, from moving to online classes to having no social interactions with anyone from the campus. Counseling Specialist Valerie Rutherford at Kent State Geauga says, "The current pandemic is causing additional stress and anxiety for everyone, especially college students. We have been forced to adapt to and endure a sudden disruption in our lives that is causing things like confusion, anxiety, and social separation." "This leads to the understanding and the acceptance of having a mental illness."
Earlier this month, Mental Health Awareness week occurred from October 4 - October 10. Many people struggle to understand that it is okay not to be okay, and you always have help around you. Counseling Specialists, Valerie Rutherford at the Geauga Campus and Susan Mark-Sracic at the Twinsburg Academic Center, are there to help with any problems students struggle with. Mrs. Mark-Sracic believes that as a counselor, "Mental Health Awareness Week is about reaching and educating students about the signs and symptoms of mental & emotional distress. We hope to reduce their reluctance to seek help. Besides raising an understanding of what counseling is, we want to promote ease of access to mental health care and its benefits." Mrs. Rutherford has a similar but different view of Mental Health Awareness Week; she states, "I view Mental Health Awareness Week as a time to break down the stigma and clear up misunderstandings surrounding mental health. I see it as the perfect opportunity to highlight positive messaging and increase education in the general public about mental health. Having a dedicated time each year to focus on mental health allows professionals in the field to come together in a unified way with consistent messaging intended to reach as many people as possible. The overreaching goal is to provide support to individuals suffering from mental health conditions so that they feel more accepted and better understood."
Many students do not know how to cope or understand mental health, but they have many different resources available from their college campuses. Mrs. Mark-Sracic helps students better understand the importance of speaking up and being open about their mental health issues. Mrs. Mark-Sracic claims, "I welcome students to start a conversation about what concerns them; discuss the impact of life events upon them or those around them. In complement to their bravery for seeking help, I seek to offer a moment of kindness, support, and guidance to move them forward." Students are given the opportunity to express their mental health in an open and safe environment with their peers; Mrs. Rutherford states, "My counterpart at the Twinsburg Academic Center (TAC), Sue Mark-Sracic I co-advise the Wellness Club for Kent State Geauga and the TAC. The club brings students together to plan events and engage the campus with a focus on overall wellness. The Wellness Club is open to all who wish to participate."
Both can be contacted through email; Susan Mark-Sracic is available at the Twinsburg Academic Center Monday through Friday 8:00 – 5:00 PM. Valerie Rutherford is working from home and can schedule have virtual calls. Both counseling specialists have flexible hours for students to receive the help they need.