Student Mental Health Advocate Awards
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.
2012 Award Winners
Senior, Wayne State University
Major: Social Work
As President of the Student Veterans’ Organization, Patrick recognized an urgent need for reorganization and innovation, as more veterans returned from deployment and enrolled at Wayne State. He conducted a needs assessment survey, demonstrating conclusively that the mental health needs of the university’s growing veteran population were not being met. With this data, he advocated for action by petitioning university faculty, staff, administration and directly contacting The WSU Board of Governors. This bold initiative led directly to the February, 2011 opening of a Veteran’s Resource Center.
Patrick has a unique ability to envision and inspire by modeling advocacy. Through the Veteran Resource Center, he has provided leadership for the implementation of programs that assist Veterans making the difficult transition from the military to the classroom: The Peer Mentoring program assists newly enrolled students with issues of transition, isolation and retention by pairing them with juniors and seniors who help them navigate the university system; The Community Service Program recognizes the psychological need for a continued “mission” and unites veterans providing outreach services to the community at large; The Vet2Vet/Battle Buddy program pairs combat veterans struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health issues, with Veterans who can help. This program promotes resilience and mental health through direct and immediate referral.
Patrick has forged a strong alliance with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), recently creating a liaison position between CAPS and the Veterans’ Resource Center. I am the Director of CAPS and have worked in weekly collaboration with Patrick on programs aimed at reducing the stigma for students seeking counseling for depression, anxiety, complicated grief and post-traumatic stress. As a direct result, CAPS has seen a marked increase in the number of Veterans seeking formal psychological counseling for these issues.
Patrick has raised awareness of mental health issues throughout the university by giving talks to faculty, staff, alumni, and student groups regarding the unique challenges facing student veterans. In January 2012, by appointment of The Provost, Patrick was commissioned to serve on a university wide committee on Veterans Affairs. Patrick’s vision and leadership in the area of mental health has truly transformed WSU into a blossoming safe haven for our student Veterans and returning warriors.
Nominated by: Lynn G. Hill, LCSW, BCD, Director, Counseling and Psychological Services, Wayne State University
Senior, Cornell University
Major: Science of Earth Systems
Catherine Kim is the VP of Cornell Minds Matter; advocating for reducing the stigma of mental illness, creating educational programs and raising awareness of mental health issues.
Catherine helped create and facilitate four “Dining with Diverse Leaders” dinner and discussion sessions; each bringing together 140 students, faculty and administrators to communicate and create action plans around these topics: Minorities and Mental Health, Creating a Caring Community, Cornell's Mental Health Framework and Resources (in reaction to campus suicides), and The Culture of Alcohol – Decreasing High Risk Drinking.
Catherine sits on Cornell’s Council on Mental Health and Wellness with faculty and administrators setting university policy, representing the student voice. She spoke at City Council meetings and was quoted in newspapers advocating for means restrictions on our bridges. She runs outreach sessions on “How to Help a Friend in Distress” and contributed to Cornell’s Faculty Handbook on Responding to Students in Distress.
Catherine created an Orientation Program for first year students integrating prevention, resilience and positive mental health called SOAP: Happiness through Social Connections, Optimism, Appreciation and Passion (now a standard feature of freshman orientation).
She has been a financial boon to CMM, meeting with Trustees and the Student Assembly to secure Bi-line funding making us one of the best funded “Active Minds-like” chapters in the country. CMM now runs 100 mental health programs a semester.
As a counselor and trainer in EARS (Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service), Catherine has put into action the mental health counseling skills she learned over three semesters; more than 90 hours of training. She volunteers 4 hours weekly at the counseling center handling a wide range of student personal issues with respect and sensitivity. Her skill level is so high that she also evaluates new counselors.
This past fall, she trained to teach counseling skills to more than 125 students. She presents to the full group and trains a group of 15 students. Catherine was selected to be a coordinator for the 12-member training team; a natural choice given the caliber of her leadership skills.
Simply put, Catherine is an outstanding advocate for mental health!
Nominated by: Karen "Casey" Carr, Assistant Dean of Students, Advisor, Cornell Minds Matter
Senior, University of Michigan
Major: Sociology, Modern Greek
Minor: Computer Science
David Catalan, an LSA senior, has used his personal experience with mental illness on campus as a springboard for his work in making mental health awareness more pervasive at the University of Michigan. This past year David has been spearheading the mental health initiatives through the Health Issues Commission of the Central Student Government (CSG). As a leader in this initiative, David and colleagues have been establishing partnerships with CAPS, UHS, campus libraries, and the U-M Depression Center. The results of these partnerships are greater mental health advocacy and prevention—for instance, David and the mental health initiative team of CSG assisted the libraries in promoting a visit from Therapaws of Michigan, which visited the UGLi during exam week in December 2011. Current projects for David and the mental health initiative team include advertising for the Depression on College Campuses Conference, and also instituting a university-wide policy that would require all classroom syllabi to include a statement about health and disability.
The promotion of Therapaws as well as the Depression on College Campuses Conference, is not only putting the words “therapy” and “depression” into the public realm and thus lessening their stigma, through their promotion of events like these, the mental health initiative team is bringing both traditional and alternative forms of prevention and treatment for mental illness out into the world of students.
Along with his work with current students on campus David has been working with the next cohort of college students to help them better understand mental illness. David spent the summer of 2011 volunteering with the Washtenaw Community Support and Treatment Services (CSTS) where he helped facilitate the activity and interpersonal therapy groups with youth affected by mental illness.
Nominated by: Katharine Zurek