Story and photos
by ANGEL CANEZ
Self-care and mental health aren’t issues that are subtly brought up.
The number of college students who have reported depression has more than doubled since the year 2000, according to the American College Health Association in October. These are stressful times for students right now around midterms.
However, Pima Community College offered a helping hand to those in need. A self-care event took place on Feb. 19 at the Downtown Campus to address these concerns. The event was directed by sophomore student senators Cindy Leonard and Casey Hohbein.
“We wanted to give back to the students because we were selected to help the students and we felt this was the best way to do that,” Hohbein said.
The wellness event was targeted to students going through all sorts of stressful times.
“Many of our students go through money insecure, food insecure, there are a lot of things going on in the background that we don’t know of,” Leonard said. “So we wanted to see up a healthcare event so students can put themselves first while having resources available to them.”
Maria Jimenez, a sophomore at Pima, suffered previous bouts of depression and mental health issues.
“It was really hard for me to say something and ask for help when I knew there was help but didn’t want to ask for it,” Jimenez said. “The hardest part for me was saying something. I was so embarrassed.” Jimenez is a prime example of the benefits of speaking up. She’s now a full-time business student, working a full-time job and running a small business, Taqueria y Fruteria Guanajuato.
“It’s all distracting, and that’s nice sometimes,” Jimenez said.
The wellness event took the opportunity to lend a hand to students who find themselves in any number of stressful situations. Topics included financial stress, unemployment, health, mental health awareness and others. The Arizona Department of Economic Security vocational rehabilitation program attended offering help in training young, unskilled and unemployed students as well as students with mental or physical disability, with the intent of helping students who may find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Most students find themselves on their own for the first time in life creating stressful environments that many find too much to handle with the load of being a student as well.
Depending on the success of this year’s wellness event, the senators hope to make it an annual event, and perhaps expand it to other campuses.
“We have two senators at every campus,” Leonard said. “If this goes well, we can all meet together and create multiple events at different campuses.”
The event was funded by student life donations, and Downtown Campus President David Dore’s office helped pay for vender food.
The event was headlined by a Text, Talk, Act presentation and offered discounts on mental health. It was hosted by the organization’s CEO Raquel Goodrich.
The Text, Talk, Act was created by the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse as part of the national dialogue on mental health initiative, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to open the talks about mental health.
It’s meant to get a small group of people with mental health issues or just stress, when the weight of life may feel like to much. To sit down and have a discussion about what is affecting them they have while also taking small text-based surveys to inform then about multiple problems people are facing.
Goodrich spoke about how she was a successful three-sport athlete, a student with good grades and a loving family, yet she still went through troubling times with the stress of succeeding taking a toll on her mentally. It took a high school mental breakdown during basketball practice for Goodrich to finally get some help in the form of her high school basketball coach.
“I was so fortunate to have him,” Goodrich said. “While he didn’t talk about metal health, he did recognize that something wrong was going on and supported me in my time of need.”
She said he let her take time off from basketball to regain herself.
When she then went of to an out-of-state college, she found herself alone and isolated, and she fell back into a state of depression. Things got so bad, she dropped out during her first semester during her freshman year.
“That’s what I went and sought professional help,” she said. “I was amazed at how quickly I was able to recover.”
Mental health is a touchy subject that likely has impacted someone you know even if you aren’t aware of it. The first action is to acknowledge the problem.
“As a man, I think it’s just in our culture, nobody wants to be seen as weak,” said Marques Hobbs, a former military serviceman. “People with mental issues are looked upon as weak from mental standpoint.”
Hobbs was in denial about his mental health as personal issues began taking a toll on him. Finally, a military superior asked if he needed help. He received help from the Department of Veterans affairs.
“Since then, I still seek help when I need it mostly at the VA,” Hobbs said. “Even if you get to that reaction phase where you start feeling anxious about things going on in your life, you can still go see help, you don’t want to wait till it gets worse where you’ll need more help then you would’ve needed before.”