University of Michigan Senior Receives Student Advocate Award at DoCC Conference
To recognize outstanding student leadership in the area of campus mental health, the University of Michigan initiated the Student Mental Health Advocate Award in 2007. The undergraduate and graduate students who have been nominated from across the country have all made a significant impact in their campus communities by raising awareness of mental health issues, advocating for mental health services on campus, and helping to reduce the stigma of depressive illnesses.
In the past, students from the University of Michigan were not eligible to receive the award, in order to avoid any possible appearance of conflict of interest on the part of the conference planning committee members who select the award recipient. In 2009, the committee decided to offer two categories for this award—one for students from the University of Michigan, and one for students from other schools—allowing us to honor student advocacy around the country, as well as on our own campus.
Senior, University of Michigan
Majors: Honors Psychology and Spanish Language & Literature
Mike Finn has been a member of the student organization Finding Voice, a campus mental health advocacy group, for more than three years. During this time, Mike guided the organization through a difficult period of transition, and provided leadership which allowed the group to continue and flourish. Thanks to Mike’s tireless efforts, Finding Voice has become a valuable resource for countless students who feel they have nowhere else to turn. The mental health literature and resource lists compiled by Finding Voice have been used not only by University of Michigan students, but also by students from other universities throughout the country. Mike has been involved with numerous events hosted by Finding Voice, from large-scale art exhibits to Mental Health Awareness Days. He has also formed positive working relationships with many different mental health advocacy groups on campus, as well as with Counseling and Psychological Services, the Department of Psychology, and the Depression Center.
In addition, Mike has been a member of the Depression on College Campuses Conference planning committee for three years, as well as a speaker for the 2007 conference. Through Mike’s innovative outreach and promotion efforts, the conference has attracted more U-M students each year, and has succeeded in involving various student groups which might not otherwise have participated. In closing, a testimonial from a Finding Voice member who nominated Mike for this award illustrates his passion for and commitment to mental health advocacy: “Mike Finn has done more to spread awareness and advocate for mental health than anyone I have met at the University of Michigan. When I joined Finding Voice, I was a lonely, lost second semester sophomore with nowhere to go. From day one, Mike opened his arms to me and showed me that there was a place on campus for students with mental illness. Now, because of Mike’s unconditional support, I am a second semester junior with the whole world in front of me. I attribute much of my success over my disease to Mike Finn, and nominate him for this award whole-heartedly.”
Emily Cepla, Student, University of Michigan
Chris Yun, Student, University of Michigan
Senior, The University of Iowa
Majors: Psychology and Pre-Medicine
Simon Holoubek is an honors student at the University of Iowa. During his four years of undergraduate studies, Simon has conducted research on the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain; participated as a leader on several student government committees; volunteered as a tutor on campus; and served as a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee.
Through his work with the Student Health Advisory Committee, Simon has proven himself to be a passionate advocate for improvement of student mental health on campus, and in particular, to improving access to mental health services and removing barriers to treatment. While there are many talented students at the University of Iowa working as mental health advocates, Simon stands out by putting his advocacy into meaningful action.
The fruits of this action can be seen throughout the University of Iowa’s campus community in the form of the Free Mental Health Clinic, which was co-founded by Simon in 2005 during his freshman year. The Clinic provides volunteer psychiatric services to approximately twenty people per month – consisting primarily of former students, undocumented workers, and abuse victims who don’t have the financial resources to be served elsewhere, or who are waiting for access to care in a more permanent setting. The direct care is provided by a volunteer psychiatrist assisted by medical students in various stages of training. The clinic also serves an advocacy role for its patients. Simon has served as a coordinator of the clinic since its inception, where his duties have included recruiting and overseeing undergraduate shadows, staff, and translators.
Simon is a talented, energetic, and intelligent student who is passionate about mental health issues, and has acted upon this passion to serve those in need.
David Braun, MD
Director, University of Iowa Student Health Service
Photo Credit: Steve Kuzma