Campus Coalition Seeks to Support NC Students With Mental Health Challenges

Campus Coalition Seeks to Support NC Students With Mental Health Challenges

From several student suicides to school shootings to remote studying during a global pandemic, a North Carolina student’s normal college experience has been anything but ordinary.
When you add in the regular stressors of homework, extracurricular activities, and being away from home, it’s simple to see why many kids report struggling with their mental health. “Over and over, we discovered that mental health matters to our community,” stated Emmy Martin.

Martin is in her junior year at UNC. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the Daily Tar Heel.

Last year, Martin received a $10,000 grant from the Solutions Journalism Network. Her concept was to form a collaborative journal with different colleges that would focus on mental health coverage.

“In the end, we had nine newsrooms,” Martin explained. “Many of them are actually private institutions which was slightly different than my original intention of having only folks that were inside the UNC system.”

The youngster expressed her satisfaction with the ultimate outcome, stating it “adds a really interesting perspective.”

Martin went on to say, “If we compare Duke’s resources to those of A&T, things will look different. I believe it adds a lot of nuance to our project, which is fantastic.”

NC State’s Technician is one of nine periodicals engaged.

When Martin contacted the newsroom, led by co-editors-in-chief Jameson Wolf and Ethan Bakogiannis, everyone was ready to help.

“Immediately we were like yes, this is something we’d want to be involved with,” Wolf added.

Wolf added that she and Bakogiannis had previously been considering how to improve mental health coverage following a rough 2022-2023 school year.

“Last school year was really difficult here on campus,” Wolf added. “We saw a significant spike in student deaths by suicide and every single person on campus was trying to figure out a way to navigate that.”

When asked about her personal experiences covering mental health as a student journalist, Wolf said, “Our very first week as editors-in-chief, we covered two student deaths on campus within 24 hours.”

Students from all nine universities gathered in Charlotte before the start of the academic year to devise a strategy.

More than six months later, The Mental Health Collaborative was formally launched. The special edition, which is available both online and in print, focuses solely on mental health issues. Martin noted that putting the pieces together had two purposes: allowing the student journalists to recover from talking to other students and linking people to relevant resources.

“These people who are working at The Daily Tar Heel or the Duke Chronicle or the Technician or the Niner Times, they also are friends with a lot of people in the community they’re covering,” Marin said. “I think that’s a very interesting place to be when something tragic happens.”

Wolf felt that the experience was beneficial to her, saying, “It also enabled me to be able to say, ‘Oh, these are resources on campus that I should be taking advantage of and participating in.’ There are things I can do to help myself.

Both students say they hope the collaboration will continue in the future.

Martin said she hopes it will draw the attention of administrators on campuses across the state, emphasizing the significance of investing in mental health programs for students and staff. “This mental health collaboration is only the beginning. “We just started the conversation in a way that may differ from how we’ve previously discussed it,” Marin explained. “There are so many more stories people can tell.”

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