Students and faculty organized the second annual “Mental Health Matters Week,” which over the past few days has focused on mental-health awareness and education through a series of events focused on relaxation.
Members of the Ohio State Greek Life community created the week of events to raise awareness for mental-health issues and to advocate for reduced wait times for students seeking counseling from OSU.
Alec Sewall, a fourth-year in strategic communication and Spanish, said he joined the executive planning committee for Mental Health Matters Week because his friends and acquaintances have been directly affected.
“We’ve seen our classmates affected, I’ve seen members of the Greek community around me struggle with mental health, so as a community, we had to come together and say that this was something that needed to be addressed,” Sewall said.
Sewall brought Mike Lutzenkirchen, executive director of the nonprofit Lutzie 43 Foundation, to OSU to talk about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and their relationship with physical and mental health. Lutzenkirchen started his foundation and began speaking to college students after his son, Philip Lutzenkirchen, died in a car accident involving alcohol in 2014.
“Bringing Mike here was important, because I feel like his message is better and more authentic than someone coming in and saying ‘Don’t make these decisions,’” Sewall said. “Every decision we make can affect our mental health, not just the obvious stuff, so I think it was important for people to hear Mike’s story.”
Wednesday night, an interactive round table with students, faculty, wellness coaches and psychologists discussed mental-health stigmas, trends in mental health among students and young adults and strategies for wellness. After the roundtable, a yoga session was held on the Oval.
The final event on Friday is a community cookout on the plaza adjacent to the Wexner Center for the Arts to wrap up the week and to discuss the next steps in improving the community’s approach to mental health.
Jake Severyn, a first-year in finance who attended the first two events of the week, said he hopes first-year students specifically can learn how to cope with the difficulties that come with being new to the college environment.
“We have a lot of issues on college campuses relating to (mental health), especially being a first-year student. Not everyone adjusts well their first year, and mental health is something that is obviously going to be a topic of conversation in moments of tragedy, so in a year like this we have a more increased focus on it,” Severyn said. “That being said, let this week really shine a light on the fact that it is an ongoing thing and something that affects you every single day, and that there are places for you to get help.”