JED Foundation, NAMI seek to promote campus mental health

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Sidewalk chalk art promotes mental health awareness near the Leadership Studies Building on the Kansas State campus on April 5, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Last semester, Thomas Lane, vice president of student life and dean of students, announced that Kansas State would partner with the JED Foundation, which he described as a national foundation focused on college student mental health.

This semester, the plan is in motion.

“We have a meeting scheduled up in the beginning of February, we have about 25 people from across campus, faculty, staff and students, that are going to be working as a JED campus team,” Lane said. “That first meeting, we’ll meet with our campus advisor that has been assigned to us by JED, they’ll Zoom in to that meeting, and they’ll talk a little bit about the JED Program.”

The large group will meet on a monthly basis, and the team will break up into smaller groups that will meet more frequently. Lane also noted that the JED Foundation representative will have an on-site visit next fall.

Lane described the campus team he formed as “eclectic.”

“We have students that are involved in SGA and also students who involved in mental health promotion,” Lane said. “We have staff members from student life [and] the provost’s office. Vice Provost Jeannie Brown Leonard is serving on the team with us. So, it’s a really eclectic, I think, group of folks who are interested in moving the needle forward on college student mental health.”

While Lane started the process of the partnership with JED last fall, recent graduate Katie Sullivan saw the benefit of bringing the National Alliance for Mental Illness to K-State, which she started working on before graduating in December.

“We made significant progress, and I am really excited,” Sullivan said. “I know I’m not a student anymore, but I can be as helpful as I possibly can to try and get the club good to go.”

She said she is working with Aaron Estabrook, co-chair at NAMI Flint Hills and city commissioner, to get it set up.

Now that she has graduated, Sullivan is looking for people to take on the work she’s started at K-State. While she has found willing people, she needs a few more to officially start the club.

Sullivan described what she thinks the necessary qualities are for the leader of the potential NAMI chapter.

“I believe that at the root of all leadership is empathy and the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, especially when you’re dealing with situations that can be delicate,” she said. “Mental illness can leave you feeling just raw at times.”

Sullivan said she sees NAMI as a way to provide even more of what is needed to help with mental health.

“I’m focused more on just expanding resources, and the NAMI on-campus program, that NAMI has offered outlines and structure for, provides great resources and peer advocacy and stuff like that,” Sullivan said.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.