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Talk about it: Mental Health on Campus offers safe space

Students partner with counselors to assist others. Photo courtesy of Bailey Koch

The goal of Talk About It: Mental Health on Campus is to offer students a place that sheds a positive light on mental health. 

Bailey Koche and Pat Philippi started this new organization. Koche is a senior lecturer in teacher education and Philippi is a senior lecturer in kinesiology and sports sciences. They created this group because they are both very passionate about mental health, so they worked to connect with UNK Student Health and Counseling. 

“I really want students to understand that this is a safe positive zone,” Koche said. “We aren’t focusing on mental illness. We want to focus on mental health.”

The goal of this organization is to promote talking about mental health. Instead of viewing it as a sickness, Talk About it: Mental Health on Campus wants to provide resources and speak about mental health with a positive, upbeat voice.

For Koche and Philippi, their mission began six years ago.

Philippi was an educator in PE 150: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Koche and her husband started visiting PE 150 every semester to talk to students about mental health. Koche and her husband would tell their story about finding hope in depression. 

“I want students to know my personal story about my husband being a five-plus times suicide attempt survivor,” said Koche. “We have had a lot of personal experience in this area and know, both personally and professionally, the benefits that come along with being open and honest about mental health struggles.” 

Koche and Philippi strive to connect and support more young adults by creating a positive place for students to heal. 

“The thing that excites me the most is seeing the growing interest in mental health from both staff and students,” said Seth Yarnell, a second-year student studying 7-12 chemistry education. “Having professors being so involved goes to show that the staff on this campus really does care about people in the community.”

The Talk About It: Mental Health on Campus organization met for the first time on last Wednesday. Seventeen people attended, which was a huge turnout, according to Yarnell.

For the rest of the 2022-23 school year, additional meetings will be held on Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Feb. 8, March 8, April 9, and May 10 in the College of Education room B154. 

“The goal of Talk About It is to destigmatize the term mental health,” Yarnell said. “We want to flip the focus of these conversations from only dealing with mental illness to achieving and maintaining good mental health.”

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