JASMINE D’ARCANGELIS
STAFF WRITER

Photo by RAUL RIVERA

As we move into the future, more awareness is being brought toward mental health. This advocacy for mental health not only includes Mental Health Awareness month in May, but also Suicide Prevention Week.

While National Suicide Prevention Week was the week prior, this past week the campus of Alma College was flooded with events and other various activities to bring awareness during Suicide Prevention Week.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Alma College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted motivational speaker and expert on mental health awareness, Jeff Yalden. This event was sponsored by Mid-State Health Network, Alma College, Child Advocacy, Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition, Gratiot Integrated Health Network, MidMichigan Health and Gratiot Isabella RESD.

According to his biography on the Premier Speakers Bureau’s website, Jeff Yalden has become the most in-demand youth motivational speaker in North America, due to his personal experiences with mental illness. Yalden has spoken to over 4,000 youth-dominated audiences.

Yalden’s speech focused on mental health awareness, but highlighted several different points, including learning from your mistakes and hardships, valuing your life and focusing on your own wellness.

“His points related back to campus by informing us on how to be supportive and understanding of others around us,” said Austin Popp (‘21).

Yalden also spoke on how personal decision making can affect those around you, about abolishing the stigma around mental health and “to seek help with mental health, as there is nothing wrong with making sure you are okay,” said Popp.

Mental Health is a touchy subject for all, but students were heavily impacted by what Yalden had to say. “Being so personal and intimate with an entire audience must be hard, so I have a lot of respect for him for that. It’s not easy talking about mental health,” said Popp.

Another organization advocating publicly for Suicide Prevention Week was Active Minds. Active Minds is an organization that advocates to change the conversation about mental health.

“We advocate for the normalization of mental health. Mental health should be as easy to talk about as physical health,” said Mackenzie Hemmer (‘20), president of Active Minds.

Active Minds put together the Field of Flags, where 1,100 yellow flags were placed between the library and Clack to represent the number of college students that commit suicide every year.

“These events brought awareness to mental health on campus because of the impact that many students feel from it and the thoughts that it provokes,” said Hemmer.

Students that are passionate about mental health and about removing the stigma around it are encouraged to take action on campus.

“Students can get involved with Active Minds in a few different ways,” said Hemmer. “First, come to the meetings if you can! We meet biweekly on Tuesday’s at 8pm in SAC 104.”

Mental health advocacy is an important part of any college campus, and Alma College Provides several resources to help students that are struggling.

Contact information for the Counseling and Wellness Center can be found on both the college’s website and on the back of the Student Identification cards.