Peer Health Educators Attempt to Reduce Stigma with Thursday’s “Mental Wellness Screening Day”

Peer Health Educators at UVA

UVa’s Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, will be holding a “Mental Wellness Screening Day” in Newcomb Hall from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. this Thursday. By putting on the event, mental health advocates at the University are hoping students will come speak to counselors about their mental and physical health in a way that is entirely free, easy, and positive.

Piper Shifflett is the events intern for Peer Health Educators, the student group involved with the screening day. She explains that the event is a good way for students who may be uncomfortable talking about their mental health or for those who wouldn’t reach out to CAPS otherwise. “It is a great middle ground,” she says.

According to her, the event is an attempt at reducing the stigma that often plagues conversations around mental health. She says that titles like the nation-wide “Depression Screening Day” reduce mental health to just mental illness, so people often don’t want to recognize it because of an assumedly negative connotation. Because of this, the name for the event had to be chosen carefully.

“It embraces more of the wellness,” Shifflett says. For those coming to the screening, they don’t have to be struggling with mental illness and they can even come “on behalf of a friend.”

In previous years, the event has had a turnout of approximately 150 students. When comparing that number to the large group of students who have concerns about their mental health, Shifflett says few are aware of the resources that groups like CAPS can offer. In an effort to increase awareness and destigmatize the conversation, Peer Health Educators like Shifflett encourage people to open up about their own mental health and ask for help when they need it. By doing this, Shifflett says, it will hopefully prompt others to do the same.

“The most important thing is raising awareness to students in the UVa community so that we can better help ourselves and each other,” she says.

The event will be held in Newcomb 360. Pizza and other treats will be provided, and you can RSVP here.


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