Free support group will offer resources to students

Mark Webster Jr.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story implied that this group was affiliated with a religion. The group says a prayer at its meetings, but it is not religiously affiliated.

A free support group is bringing resources to WKU for students struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns. The service aims to offer guidance as the 2018-2019 school year kicks off.

Jay Gabbard, a social work professor and member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness connection on-campus support group, said the stigma around mental illness is a leading factor in today’s society.

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is the “top presenting concern among college students,” at 41.6 percent.  

The free support group is designed to create an environment where students can open up to their peers and not feel judged.

“The idea is to provide students with an additional resource to help them with mental health issues,” Gabbard said.

Gabbard said a mental health diagnosis is not required for students to attend.

According to the American Psychological Association, university and college counseling centers have been experiencing a shift in the needs of students seeking counseling services since the ‘90s.

At each meeting, Gabbard said there is a set agenda the students follow which includes a welcome, an explanation of group guidelines and the principles of support.

When the meeting is over, the group says a traditional unity prayer. The prayer discusses problems the group faces in their daily lives. It closes with, “And as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams. We will never give up hope.”

Gabbard said the ending prayer is one of strength and guidance of peace.

“Humans in today’s society sometimes are afraid of being labeled,” Gabbard said.  “A lot of students who come to college far away sometimes might not have a support system, having things done a certain way can lead to a type of anxiety.”

Sophomore Jalen Dochee said the free support program is exactly what a campus like WKU needs.

“It’s a good way to get people to step out of their comfort zone,” Dochee said.  

The meetings are free and will take place in room 201 of the Academic Complex  from 6-7:30 p.m. on the following Mondays: Sept.10, Sept. 24, Oct. 8, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3.

Features reporter Mark Webster Jr. can be reached at 317-874-8618 and @mark.webster [email protected] . Follow Mark on social media at @mwebster68.