By Gabriella Galloway
Entirely East Lansing
A city council meeting on March 15 approved the recognition of this week as Mental Health Awareness Week with hopes to spread knowledge about the misperceptions and reality of mental health.
This approved resolution originated from the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), an undergraduate student government that has recognized and promoted Mental Health Awareness Week for the past two years on campus.
Bryn Williams, the vice president of governmental affairs for ASMSU, brought the idea of expanding Mental Health Awareness Week to the city of East Lansing last year with the hope that the community could join in recognizing its importance.
“Every year since its inception, Mental Health Awareness Week has grown in size, scope, and efficacy, through involving a large number of campus groups, local businesses, and other such partners,” said Williams.
There are events throughout the week that are being put on by various organizations that can be found here.
MSU’s Greek Life is a proud sponsor of MHAW and participates and hosts some of the events that go on. “Positive Affirmation Day” is held on March 24. During this day members of Greek life pass out positive sayings, candy, and other giveaways to those who walk by the Rock, according to Bailee Hall, the Alpha Chi Omega Greek Panhellenic Chair.
Some other events include community coloring, yoga for every BODY, and relaxing at the Planetarium.
“The week can hopefully provide students suffering from mental health problems an outlet, as well as providing the community with facts and knowledge on the topic,” said Hall.
“The goal behind this week is really just to get people involved in the conversations surrounding mental health, but also help facilitate a community understanding when it comes to the issues’ prevalence, complexity, and impact,” said Williams.
Williams said that due to social pressures, many people don’t like to open up about feelings and are uncomfortable when talking about mental health. “People want to feel normal, but that’s simply not how life works; if we were all normal, we’d be a very boring people,” said Williams.
According to the letter to city council requesting recognition for Mental Health Awareness Week written by Alex Noffsinger, the University Commission Chair, mental health diseases are not given as much attention compared to visible disorders and diseases. This being the reason behind the misperceptions of mental health.
“Mental health is basically physical health in a very precise way because mental health reflects the state of your brain, which is an organ in your body so I think some see mental health as in your head when in fact it’s in your brain,” said Erik Altmann an East Lansing city council member.
“I think it’s important to remember that mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes and that things considered common, such as chronic stress or social anxiety, fall in this category. I want everyone to keep in mind that an individual may not wear their mental health status on their sleeve,” said Hall.
According to Altmann, this week should get people to think about the fact that mental health illnesses need more attention from policy makers and other agencies and to give the community an opportunity to learn about it.
That is why the students of Michigan State University and the community of East Lansing find it necessary to draw awareness to this cause.
A list of resources are included when you click here if you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health illness, or to learn more about this week.