The National Alliance of Mental Illness at LSU aims to remove the stigma around mental health and bring awareness to the importance of mental health on campus through meetings, events and resources. It will hold its first meeting this Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. in 212 Coates Hall.
LSU NAMI president Tatiana Gonzalez-Quiroga believes in the importance of mental health and wants to have the entire campus talking about it.
“Mental health is something that we all have in common," Gonzalez-Quiroga said. "I think it’s nice that this club really gets that conversation started.”
The club meets once a month for a general meeting, which includes a topic pertaining to mental health and sometimes a speaker relevant to that topic.
The first meeting of this semester will be an informational meeting about NAMI and what members can expect from the club. In November, the meeting theme will surround gun violence and mental health.
NAMI also holds events throughout the month aside from their general meetings. One of these is “NAMI and Chill,” a movie night on one Friday each month where members get together and watch a movie related to mental health, then discuss it afterward. Other events the club hosts include mindfulness yoga, therapy dogs and music therapy.
NAMI also has a booth during Fall Fest each year to reach out to the LSU community and promote mental health. Last year the theme of their booth was “Hang Your Worries Up To Dry,” where University students could write their worries on a paper in the shape of a t-shirt and hang it on a clothesline.
In 2018 NAMI at LSU won the Advocacy Program of the Year Award at the Love Purple Live Gold Awards for their Black History Month program about mental health in the African American community.
NAMI partners with the Student Health Center for many of their events and initiatives. This semester they are working together to promote four new mental health initiatives for students at the University. One of these new services will be a 15-minute walk-in therapy session available to students in four locations across campus.
Vice President Savannah Weisensee is one of the students working closely with the Student Health Center on this new program.
“When you call the Health Center and say you need to talk to a therapist, you have to wait a month or two to get an appointment,” Weisensee said. “Usually by the time someone is calling the Mental Health Center, it’s because they’re already in crisis mode.”
The new service will make the resources available to University students for their mental health more accessible.
“We’re here to help,” Weisensee said.
NAMI LSU is a branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit organization that works in communities to provide education and resources regarding mental illness to those in need. NAMI has a Louisiana and a Baton Rouge chapter, both of which are involved with NAMI LSU.
NAMI at LSU posts updates about upcoming events and meetings on their Instagram, @geauxnami, and Twitter @mentalhealthlsu .