More than 75 percent of people struggling with mental illnesses the onset of the mental illness occurs between the ages of 18-24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Because of this, California Baptist University’s Counseling Center is holding a mental health awareness open house event called “The Journey,” April 10-11, running from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Each room will be designed to showcase a different mental health problem and students will have the opportunity to experience the different problems in an appropriate environment to help them understand what goes on in the mind of someone with a mental illness.
Dr. Jeff Biddle, director of the Counseling Center, said he hopes this event will help students understand mental illnesses and realize the Counseling Center is there to help.
“We want our students to experience what their friends and family might feel like so they can develop compassion or empathy by actually experiencing a little taste of what they go through,” Biddle said.
Students are encouraged to explore each room; however, no room is mandatory and students who could be triggered by one of the rooms can skip it.
The Counseling Center is teaming up with other departments to improve the event including CBU’s College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design where students will showcase various art forms that helped those who are struggling. Athletics will show how exercise can help with depression and anxiety and the Office of Spiritual Life will have a hope and spirituality room.
“Our vision for the room is to provide a tranquil space that reflects what it looks like to be rooted and grow in Christ,” said Julie Dobbins, director of Compassion and Women’s Ministries. “For so many, the chaos of emotional and physical struggles cause them to want to escape so we wanted to simulate an experience with peace, rest and truth.”
Another report by NAMI says one in every five college students suffer from some kind of mental health problem. Among these are depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.
“It’s good the center is raising awareness and giving us information so we can understand our friends better,” said Annie Montgomery, freshman English major. “I don’t know of any of my friends here at CBU that are suffering from a disorder but I know the numbers are high, so that’s very scary to me. Knowing that I, or someone that I love, could suffer from a mental health disorder (without me knowing).”
Faculty and staff are invited to attend opening night and encourage students to attend the event the following day.
Students can bring anyone who might benefit from learning more about mental health problems and help spread awareness and understanding.