Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast Hosts Annual Health and Wellness Fair: “We’re Stronger Together”

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Shannon Washington, graduate assistant for Campus Violence Prevention, poses for a photo at the Health and Wellness Fair. Many different t-shirts were available for students, including those reading “I am SEMO Strong” and “Let’s Talk SEMO”.
Photo by Kaylie Davis

According to the Missouri Assessment of College Health Behaviors, the percentage of Southeast students struggling with anxiety and major depression have increased 3% from 2020 to 2021.

Southeast’s Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility hosted its annual Health and Wellness Resource Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 8, in the University Center (UC) lobby to bring awareness to mental and physical health resources available to Southeast students.

The lobby of the UC was packed with tables and buzzing with students eager to receive free goodies and treats while learning more about the variety of support and resources Southeast offers.

Mental health counselor for the Behavioral Health and Accessibility Center and event organizer John Nimmo said it is important for students to be mindful of their own and others’ mental health, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

“We really need to support each other together now. It’s more important now than ever,” he said. The theme of the Health and Wellness Fair is SEMO Strong: Campus and Community, trying to emphasize the connection between the two. SEMO is an acronym for Safe, Empowered, Motivated, and Optimistic. Now's the time for us not to be discouraged, and try to pull together, Nimmo said.

The Health and Wellness Fair gave students information on how to get connected with resources and help for physical and mental health. It was sponsored by the office of the Dean of Students, Missouri Partners in Prevention, the Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility and RedHawk Educators. Here are a few of the highlights:

Information was available at the fair about sexually transmitted infection screening and resources for safer sex, programs run by the Community Counseling Center, substance abuse recovery treatment centers in town, information about eating disorders and body positivity, suicide prevention and awareness resources, violence prevention awareness resources and LGBTQ+ resources. The Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility also showcased many resources available for students.

Freshman biology wildlife conservation major Addyson Kimberlin said it was helpful to see the health and wellness resources Southeast offers in one place, in a physical format.

“I knew there were resources, but I didn’t really know how many resources there were and where to find them. I knew they were probably on the website, but I honestly didn’t bother to look,” she said. “So, whenever people give you a pamphlet, I’m like, ‘Ooh, a pamphlet.’ I can hang my stuff and whenever I look over I’m like ‘Yes, that works.’”

The Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility is a central resource for students on campus looking for mental health support. It offers professional counseling services; a crisis text line; tips for coping with trauma, drug abuse, stress and anxiety; advice for supporting others struggling with mental health and other resources.

The Southeast Counseling Clinic is a free resource for students who are looking for counseling services, provided by graduate students who are trained counselors. Southeast students can visit the website or call the office to sign up for a meeting. Students can also contact the clinic to get connected with other mental health services within the community.

For students who want to chat with someone, Let’s Talk SEMO is a great option. Counselors are available at the UC and River Campus on Wednesdays from Noon to 2 p.m. and at Towers and the Rec Center on Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. to talk to students on an as-needed basis.

“It’s anonymous; we don’t ask for anybody’s name, we don’t take any notes. We're just there if somebody wants to come up and chat,” Nimmo said. “They can just let off steam if they want to, they can talk about a bigger issue — and in that case, we may make a referral for a resource.”

Observance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Week was another major focus of the fair.

For students, faculty or staff looking to support their peers and to be able to listen and identify suicidal ideation, Ask. Listen. Refer. is a great resource, Nimmo said. It is a 20-minute online session touching on risk factors for suicide and how to talk to a friend who might be considering suicide.

Nimmo also spoke on how to recognize someone who might be at risk of suicide.

“If you see significant changes in someone, that’s probably the most important thing. If it’s uncharacteristic behavior for them — if they’re normally upbeat and they’re not for a period of time; if they’re normally well-kept in their physical appearance, and they’re not suddenly; if they start to isolate and start avoiding interactions and relationships they normally could be enthusiastic about, just those kind of significant changes,” he said.

“If they start avoiding classes, avoiding work they have to do. That’s reason enough to ask them a few questions,” he said. “Just say, ‘You don’t seem quite yourself today, are you OK? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?’”

Another focus of the fair was the Campus Violence Prevention Program, whose mission is to raise awareness and promote prevention of interpersonal and sexual violence. The program informs students and employees of their rights regarding reporting violence and ensures access to counseling, victim advocacy, legal assistance and supportive services available on-campus and in the community.

“The worst thing is to feel alone on campus,” Nimmo said. “[Students] need connections, need to feel supported, need to feel like they belong. … That’s part of the SEMO strong thing, an identity that we’re a part of a large group that’s positive,” Nimmo said.

To reach Southeast’s 24/7 crisis hotline, call (573) 651-2215 and ask for a crisis counselor, or text “HOME” to 741-741.

To reach the national suicide hotline, call 1 (800) 273-8255​.