Plenty of participants carrying signs of support were evidence of another successful Out of the Darkness walk last spring, a well-received event that helped Sacramento State earn recognition for its work on behalf of mental health. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)
By Cynthia Hubert
For the second time in recent years, Sacramento State has received national recognition for its programs focusing on mental health and suicide prevention.
The nonprofit Active Minds has selected Sac State to receive the 2019 Innovation Award for cultivating “engaging and impactful programs” that promote mental and emotional wellness on campus. The university in 2016 also received honors from Active Minds, which focuses on mental health advocacy and has more than 600 high school and college chapters nationwide.
“Our team continues to be impressed and stunned by the amount of vital work you’ve been able to accomplish,” Robyn Suchy of Active Minds wrote in a congratulatory message to Sac State.
Sac State’s Active Minds chapter will be honored at a Washington, D.C., conference in February.
Reva Wittenberg, associate director for Campus Wellness, called the University's mental health programs wide-ranging and innovative.
“It takes more than a single type of service to meet the mental health needs of students, and Sac State offers many options that promote holistic well-being,” Wittenberg said. “I believe the comprehensiveness of the mental wellness services we provide at Sac State sets us apart from many other campuses.”
Among the university’s higher-profile events is its annual Out of the Darkness campus walk, scheduled this year for April 9. Registered walkers raise money for suicide prevention and show support for people who are at risk for suicide, as well as survivors and those who have lost loved ones because of mental illness. Sac State’s event is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.
Out of the Darkness helps to “reach and engage a significant part of the campus population in a way that breaks the silence and stigma around mental health and seeking help,” Wittenberg said.
Other mental health programs, events and services Sac State offers include:
- Culturally diverse mental health counseling that “meets students where they are,” offering sessions at The WELL and at various satellite offices on campus, including Athletics and Housing.
- “Cupcakes With Counselors” workshops, in which students can learn about Sac State’s mental health services and how to access them. The next session is scheduled for noon Feb. 11 in Lassen Hall, Room 1000.
- A “sleep wellness” campaign, which includes Time for a Nap Class. Studies have shown that a lack of proper sleep “can affect your mental, emotional and physical health,” said health educator Lara Falkenstein. Sac State students can take a break from studies and nap from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at The WELL.
- Bringing friendly dogs to campus that interact with students during midterms and finals week. “Stress Less Puppies” are scheduled to be roaming the Library Quad in mid-March and early May.
- Workshops offered by the campus Active Minds. They feature peer-led discussions on such topics as managing stress and fighting stigmas attached to mental issues.
- "Wellness in the Classroom." Wittenberg has been working with faculty on the project, which provides strategies and resources for reducing stress on students, encouraging them to make social connections and helping them build coping skills.
“Something as simple as faculty members putting our phone number on the class syllabus is a huge shift and very helpful,” Falkenstein said. “These are small changes that help students connect with us when they are ready.
“We’re so fortunate to have such great support from our team, the administration and the campus overall,” she said. “We really have a lot of tools for success.”