Mental Health Awareness Day

Event strives to change how students view mental health

Andrew Kicmol, Editor in Chief

Earlier this month Intercultural Exchange and Madison College had a mental health day to help raise awareness to students about the importance of mental health in communities of color.

While specifically targeted at communities of color the event was open for all students. It was the most attended event that Intercultural Exchange has had this year.

At the event were several agencies to showcase what the community has to offer, letting students see what they have available to them as resources to get help if they need it. Door prizes like tickets for massages from the massage therapy program were given out along with other prizes to promote wellbeing.

The popularity of the event was good sign that more and more people are more willing to talk about mental health, but there is still a long way to go, especially for people of color. 

“Although mental health is stigmatized in mainstream of our own culture, it’s more so in people of color the access is even more difficult,” said Blanca De Leon counselor at Madison College, and one of the participants in the event.

One reason that it’s more difficult is because there isn’t enough representation in the field of mental health overall, and it may be holding back some people from seeking out help if they need it.

“There aren’t a ton of providers, so psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists there is very little representation in the field, and individuals’ cultures have so much to do with how they view mental health issues and mental wellness,” said De Leon.

To help change that guest speaker Dr. Valerie Henderson came by to speak to students. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder of Sankofa Behavioral & Community Health, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the mental health of Black people.

“To have a clinician that is familiar with those barriers and how culture impacts that is paramount to being successful in therapy or getting treatment,” said De Leon of the importance of having more people of color represented in the mental health profession.

In general people usually have a hard time admitting they need help, and don’t want to seek out something like a therapist. Our culture is slowly talking about mental health more, but for De Leon it’s still not to the point that it needs to be.

“I strongly believe in destigmatizing mental health and talking about it like having the flu or diabetes or another medical condition, because it’s certainly a medical condition,” said De Leon of importance of talking about and understanding mental health.

The counselling staff at Madison College along with Intercultural Exchange will probably have more mental health related events in the future to try and help further the discussion and understanding of mental health. The staff also wants students to know that if they are struggling with their own issues they can stop by counselling and at the very least have someone to talk to.

“We’re not a clinic but it’s a great place to start,” said De Leon.

Counselling from the college can help students learn how to manage stress, set boundaries and with conflict management. If a student is having trouble communicating with an instructor, conflict management can help students learn how to approach an instructor and talk to them if they are having problems.

Counselling services are located across from the cafeteria at C1434. To find out more about what counselling services the college provides can be found at

To find more about Sankofa and Dr. Valerie Henderson go to