From Nov. 6-11, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will be recognizing Mental Health Week with events for relaxation and education on mental health awareness. The university will also be canceling classes scheduled for noon or later on Thursday, Nov. 9 to give students the chance to participate in some of these events.
The full list of events can be found on the university’s website, and include an evening of ice cream and a visit from therapy dogs, yoga sessions and speakers throughout the week presenting on the topic of mental health.
Mental Health Week was brought to UL Lafayette’s campus thanks to the efforts of Caemon Scott, a junior in strategic communications who currently serves as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and on the SGA President’s executive board for athletics.
Scott got the idea from Texas Southern University’s mental health day, and shared that listening to his classmates made it more and more apparent that mental health was a serious issue, one that many students struggle with, and one that he found himself constantly confronted by.
“Scrolling on social media some days and seeing people my age commit suicide, it really affected me. I remember whenever my senior year of high school during my recruiting cycle, I had one of my family friends commit suicide. And it shocked us all because we didn’t think she was going to do that,” Scott said.
He continued, adding that though it’s easy to talk about change, actually enacting it often doesn’t happen.
“I hear a lot of people talk about ‘It’s time for change. There needs to be a change in this, we need to be the change.’ But there’s not really too many actions behind that, and I was like well, it’s really time to be the change. And I’ve dealt with a lot of people who had many mental health issues, serious mental health issues, and I was probably their last line to talk to,” Scott said.
Scott reached out to various parts of campus, which included releasing a survey to get responses from students about their thoughts on mental health. In four days, he received over 700 responses, which really made his efforts with making Mental Health Week a reality kick off.
He shared that many students didn’t know what services UL Lafayette offers to help with mental health, and many worried about whether their professors would be understanding of mental health issues.
He brought these survey responses to his presentation to University President Joseph Savoie.
“I was like, this is basically the punchlines. Our students are saying this, and we need to listen to our students to keep them engaged, keep their grades high, because if your mental wellbeing is down, then your grades are gonna decrease as well.”
Scott said one of the events he’s most looking forward to is the Student Wellness Center’s presentation on social media and its effects on mental health, being held on Nov. 9 at 12:30 p.m.
“I know a lot of times we scroll through social media and we don’t really realize how much that alters our mental wellbeing and things like that. So just to number one learn about the services UL offers for mental health, and number two find out how social media can alter our mental health,” Scott said.
He also shared that one of his most-anticipated events is the football game on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m., where the Ragin’ Cajuns will go against Southern Miss, while at the same time promoting mental health awareness.
“Everybody who’s at that game is gonna get a wristband, the first 1000 students are gonna get a t-shirt, every player is going to be having “You are not alone” on their helmet. And that is the game that I’ve ran into a lot of pushback, and I kinda persevered through to make sure this gets done,” Scott said. “And it’s not only UL working with this and agreeing to do it, it’s Southern Miss as well agreeing to do it. So linking these two schools together even though we’re “rivals,” it was huge to me and I was excited to see it.”
To Scott, what helps the most when someone is struggling with mental health is friendship and a sense of community.
“Friendship is the biggest thing. Having a good group of friends that you could talk to, having a great community that you can talk about your issues with, even if they don’t know the answer, them just listening is huge,” Scott said.
He closed by saying that, for those who don’t have those people in their life right now, getting involved on campus is a great way to find a community where you can fit in, one that wants the best for you.
“Surround yourself by a good community who actually genuinely cares about you and genuinely wants to see you succeed. And if you don’t have that right now, I’ll say get involved on campus because then you’ll really meet people who actually care about you and want to see you succeed, and meet some great people who you can build lifetime memories with,” Scott said.