Student-Led Panel Discussion Provides Support for College Students

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Adjusting to the demands of college life can be a stressful time for students who have to learn to negotiate a busy class schedule, often while working, and try to find time for relaxation as well.   

“Managing Mental Illness as a College Student,” a student-led panel discussion sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Elm City and the Gateway Community College (GCC) Wellness Center, offered insight on coping strategies.  Approximately 40 people attended the Monday, Dec. 3 event at Gateway Community College.

Diana Crocker, Doctor of Behavioral Health from Yale University, developed the list of panelists and worked with NAMI and GCC to organize the event.  The discussion centered on how to navigate mental health services in college as well as the successes and challenges of attending school.  Discussion also addressed the risks of disclosing mental health challenges and suggestions for students and schools to offer support to students.

Valerie Lepoutre, Young Adult Coordinator for NAMI Connecticut, moderated the discussion. Lepoutre offers training and support for young adults who are interested in starting peer support groups at their colleges or in their communities.  Student panelists were from Quinnipiac University, the University of Connecticut Stamford, Southern Connecticut State University, and Yale University.
Kathleen Ahern, M.S., L.P.C., a counselor in GCC’s Wellness Center, said that panel discussions such as this are helpful for reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and may validate feelings some students have.  Ahern said that it’s important for college students to develop an understanding of coping skills and how to reach out for help.