YSU Students United Conducts Student-Run Mental Health Panel 

Marta Hergenrother, Sarah Elisabeth Odidika and Noor Khalayleh pose in front of a YSU Students United banner. Photo by Abigail Cloutier

By Abigail Cloutier

Youngstown State University Students United held its second student-led panel since its establishment last spring semester, focusing on mental health awareness and the variety of resources offered at YSU on Sept. 25 in Kilcawley Center. 

The panel commenced with a presentation from Ann Jaronski, director of Student Counseling Services at YSU, about common symptoms of anxiety and depression while listing resources provided on campus. 

Jaronski advised students to take advantage of Student Counseling Services on campus and the Community Counseling Clinic in the Beeghly College of Education, along with other local therapy services and crisis hotlines. 

Sarah Elisabeth Odidika, a senior biology major, helped organize the panel with her colleagues and said discussing mental health awareness aligns with September symbolizing Suicide Awareness Month. 

“This is the beginning of the school year and a lot of students don’t think about mental health when school is starting,” Odidika said. “We really wanted an open dialogue and free space for students to talk.”

Marta Hergenrother, a senior psychology major, said as midterms and finals approach, students may not know how to handle the additional stress. 

“A lot of people, like me, feel embarrassed about admitting they need help,” she said. “I think it’s just important to have a space where students can talk about things and relate to each other.”

Marta Hergenrother, Sarah Elisabeth Odidika and Noor Khalayleh pose in front of a YSU Students United banner. Photo by Abigail Cloutier

According to Hergenrother, she hopes students feel comfortable by having an outlet to turn to on campus for personal assistance. 

“I hope that students honestly take away that they can have free help at YSU,” she said. “Talk to people, … Talk to counseling services at YSU, talk to your friends, find someone that you can talk to and do it.”

Students participated in the discussion by visiting numbered tables featuring various questions asking them to talk about coping mechanisms, their reliance on others for emotional support and whether they avoid social events due to mental illnesses.

Five student panelists were on stage responding to each question, and members from the audience were elected to verbalize their experiences to the crowd.

Joshua Drohn, a freshman integrated social studies education major, was a student panelist and said the event held a personal connection for him.

“People are usually afraid and think they shouldn’t say anything, but when I went up there, I thought I should say something,” said Drohn. “People need to know the negative effects that happen if nothing is done [about mental health].” 

Odidika said having a student-led panel breaks down the barrier that a professional lecture can sometimes cause, allowing students to interact with one another.

Students can take hanging tiles with uplifting, peer-made messages from the new Penguin Positivity boards, courtesy of Student Counseling Services. Photo by J. Harvard Feldhouse/The Jambar

“I hope that students most importantly made a connection with another student,” said Odidika.

“Either shared a similar experience to them, or related to them in any way — it was a way for students to come together.”

YSU Students United will host its second panel of the semester, which will focus on poverty awareness, Nov. 13.