Don’t Mess with Texas: Students Stand up to Stigma

AUG. 18, 2015

By Ashley Rodriguez

NAMI on Campus at UTEPNAMI on Campus at The University of Texas at El Paso was established in August 2013 with only five active members, but has grown now to more than 20 members. Our goal has been to raise awareness about mental health and help end the stigma on mental illness. By providing peer support, education and advocacy, we were the first organization on campus to address mental health issues.

Each year we hold many events to bring awareness to mental health. One of favorites is called Express Your Stress. Every semester during the week before finals the university is invited to learn about different coping strategies. Past events have featured art, yoga, Zumba as stress relievers. This semester will be focusing on dog therapy on behalf of our local animal shelter.

This past year we also hosted a candle light vigil on International Survivors o

f Suicide Day. There were over 100 members from the community that joined us for this very powerful event including families who had lost a loved one to suicide and mental health professionals.

Receiving their certifications

But it’s more than just drawing attention to mental health with public events. In partnership with our university counseling center, we have offered our community Question Prevent Refer (QPR) training. These trainings help students be prepared for emergency crisis situations, such as showing them how to act and refer students to get help. All of the members in our club have gone through the QPR suicide training.

As college students, we know that school isn’t always easy (or fun, with all of the studying). But we also know the importance of education and don’t think anyone shouldn’t be able to receive an education because of their mental health. One of our proudest moments this year was when we helped announce the Leadership in Mental Health Advocacy Scholarship at UTEP. This scholarship, funded by local sponsors and organization fundraising, was created to help individuals with mental health conditions and advocates achieve their academic goals.

Our club has also been publically recognized by our school, receiving several prestigious awards. During our first year as an active organization, we were recognized as the Advocacy Organization of the Year, New Organization of the Year and as a Gold Standard Organization. I was also recognized as President of the Year over 400 other organization leaders!

Accepting their awards

This year, NAMI on Campus at UTEP was once again recognized as Advocacy Organization of the Year and as a Gold Standard Organization. Mike Montes, one of our most active members, was recognized as Member of the Year amongst all student organizations.

We believe that the success of our organization comes from within. All of us work together for a common goal to break the misconceptions of mental illness.

NAMI on Campus clubs across the country are helping build better communities by raising awareness on mental health and helping end the stigma associated with mental illness. But it needs to bigger than just us. Students everywhere need to join together. If we do, we can make an even more significant impact on the lives of those affected by mental illness.

Ashley Rodriguez is the president of NAMI on Campus at UTEP.

Comments

Comments
FEB, 09, 2016 09:57:49 PM
Victoria Martyn
Hello, I am with the UTEP Occupational Therapy department. Our student association is interested in receiving QPR training. Would I be able to organize this through the UTEP NAMI group? Any information would be extremely helpful.

AUG, 28, 2015 08:29:12 PM
Dr. Delinda Martin
I would like to connect with this group so I can find out more about how they started and what they are doing now.

AUG, 28, 2015 08:27:18 PM
Dr. Delinda Martin
Fantastic work! I would like to know more about how you started, what resources were needed; physical and monetary. I am nursing faculty at a college in New Orleans. Great way to get nursing students involved in mental health awareness and patient needs.

AUG, 23, 2015 10:46:27 PM
Dee Anderson
After reading your story, I am motivated to do my best to get Nami on Campus off the ground here at Columbus State University. You guys are doing great things, keep up the awesome work!

Submit to the NAMI Blog

We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.

Check out our Submission Guidelines for more information.