Promoting mental health through art

Student Counseling Services is holding an art contest to help reduce the stigma and raise awareness of mental health. Photo by Jessica Stamp / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp 

At Youngstown State University, Student Counseling Services offers group sessions for students with varying academic needs. With more students returning to campus for classes, getting back to a more normal environment can be hard to adjust to. 

Anne Lally, assistant director at Student Counseling Services, encourages students to get involved in any group session potentially helpful to them.

“Depending on the students’ needs, there is, of course, individual counseling for students who want to see a counselor and talk about their individual needs,” Lally said. “The other thing that is available is we have a lot of groups that we’re offering students in the fall.” 

There are seven groups offered, ranging from managing social anxiety and transitioning into the college workload and life, to staying organized and managing time.   

According to the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement, “Recent data show a drop in student optimism; the percentage of those who were ‘very optimistic’ dropped from 60% in May to just 42% in August.”

Student Counseling Services provides a gratitude group session for students trying to move forward and find positivity and appreciation. 

Lally said one group focused on gratitude and optimism which may be of interest to some students during such a stressful time. 

Incoming freshmen had diverse learning environments their senior year of high school. Some students did their schooling completely online while others did both online and in-person classes. Freshmen students face many difficulties, uncertainties and lack of physical and social interactions.

The majority of entering students suffered increased levels of depression, hopelessness and loneliness due to COVID,” the report by BCSSE stated.  

Lally wants to motivate students to try and seek those social connections in the best way they can, in whichever way they feel comfortable and safe for them to reach out and be involved. 

Go to the Student Activities website and read all the clubs and the organizations that are available for students and if there is something you’re interested in, then get involved because if you’re interested in that then you’re going to find like minded people and you can start to build your social group,” Lally said. 

One way Student Counseling Services is bringing awareness to mental health is by hosting its first art contest with plans to make it an annual event. 

“I want that student input, what the students are thinking, to hear what the students feel about it, and so by doing this contest, they’re able to put their creativity out there, whatever venue they decide for art,” Lally said. 

The contest is associated with art to show the creative side of students while talking about reducing the stigma of mental health, promoting positivity and seeking treatment. 

The winner will get to display their artwork in the Student Counseling Services office and across campus, hold an open house to showcase it and have their picture taken alongside their artwork. 

The contest starts Sept. 7 and ends Oct. 8. 

To turn in artwork or for more information, contact Anne Lally at alally@ysu.edu

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