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Mind’ week begins

CHARLIE DUCEY | Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Student government leaders have big plans this week for the first ever “Irish State of Mind” week promoting mental health awareness at Notre Dame. 

The town hall meeting at Washington Hall on Monday evening marked the start of the “Irish State of Mind” week. Student body president Alex Coccia said “Irish State of Mind” is about caring for fellow members of the Notre Dame community. 

“The ‘Irish State of Mind’ is the recognition that we take care of our brothers and sisters,” Coccia said. “We work together to create a culture where we aren’t afraid to ask for help when we need it. Because we all have moments in our lives when we need someone to talk to.”

The meeting offered a multitude of views on mental health at Notre Dame from professors, students, Rec Sports, Student Services and the University Counseling Center (UCC), Coccia said. The meeting emphasized that resources are available to stressed and anxious individuals or just to those who need somewhere safe to talk at the UCC, which is located in St. Liam Hall.

Stephanie Klotter, student government director of residence life, helped organize much of the mental awareness week activities. She said that the purpose of the “Irish State of Mind” initiative is to have students consider their own worries and those of others.  

“In essence, to let people know that they are not alone,” Klotter said.

Coccia said one way in which students can look out for their mental health is to learn to balance commitments with sleep, exercise and other physical and emotional needs. 

“Notre Dame students are driven and committed, and this sometimes causes us to ignore fundamental parts of health like sleep and exercise,” Coccia said. “Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to say ‘no’ to that extra thing that we could do, in order to take time for ourselves.”

Klotter said college is made more difficult by separation from family and desire for self-discovery. 

“College puts us around each other all the time. It’s a kind of microcosm. When one of us is stressed it affects a whole group of people. Students may be away from their support systems of home and family. We are trying to figure out who we are, and it is a difficult process to undergo,” she said.

Klotter said the University recognizes the many stresses and challenges faced by students and provides ways for students to get the help they need. 

“The resources to assist in mental health are there,” she said. “The UCC has amazing professionals.”

A lecture by psychology blogger, speaker and Notre Dame alumna Julie Hersh on Tuesday was the second major event in the week of mental health awareness programming, Klotter said. 

There will also be stress relief in front of South Dining Hall Wednesday night from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a concert on South Quad starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday.