CSUN holds second annual Mental Health Awareness Fair

Ishtiyaq Ahmed Imthiyaz, a CSUN student, attends the Mental Health Awareness Fair at CSUN in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2022. Being an international student, Imthiyaz said about the fair that when “your family is in a different part of the world and you get home sick, like I am, these events kind of make me feel welcome. It’s like the school is saying that they care about us.”

Maya Morales, Reporter

CSUN’s Associated Students and University Counseling Services hosted their second annual Mental Health Awareness Fair on Oct. 27 in hopes of showing students the resources available to them on campus. Looking around the event, there were crowds of students walking through the lines of booths and participating in activities that were aimed at benefiting their mental health.

“This year we’re excited to have more departments from campus out here tabling and sharing their resources with students,” said Julie Pearce, director of CSUN’s University Counseling Services.

The promotion for this year’s fair started a month ago in order to inform as many students as possible about the event. They were able to invite more resources to set up their information booths this year as well. Pearce said that the Plaza Del Sol was chosen specifically because lots of student traffic went by in the area.

Areli attaches her promise on the “promise tree” at the Mental Health Awareness Fair at CSUN in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2022. Many booths and activities were present at the fair, including “promise trees.” (William Franco Espinosa)

This year the main importance of this event was making students feel included, while informing them where they can go for help. They had booths from the Student Recreation Center, University Counseling Services, the Oasis Wellness Center, and YOU@CSUN — as well as student outreach programs like the Women’s Research and Resources Center, the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing, and clubs such as JADE that focused on spreading awareness around mental health.

“It is so important to us that students are aware of, and knowledgeable of, all the resources that exist on campus that are here to support their mental health and well-being,” Pearce said.

Walking around the booths, the sense of community was meant to be inviting to students. The representatives of each booth offered information about their organization and gave out free stickers, shirts, tote bags and pens. Some students felt welcomed and less scared as they saw many of their colleagues walking around to different areas.

Bianca Delgado, a junior majoring in biology, attended the fair with her friend hoping to figure out how to deal with the pressures of returning to campus fully in person.

Julie Pearce, director of CSUN Counseling Services, supervises the Mental Health Awareness Fair at CSUN in Northridge, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2022. “It’s hard to say ‘I need help,'” said Pearce about the importance of the fair. “I just want to encourage and empower students to seek out help or support when they need it, instead of letting things go until they reach a crisis point. That’s why we’re here.” (William Franco Espinosa)

“Coming to the Mental Health Awareness Fair, it really shows how we have a lot of people we can go to when we need help,” Delgado said. “Like if you’re feeling sad or if you’re feeling stressed, I learned that the counseling office could really help me in the first couple weeks when everything was very stressful. It helped me know that there are safe spots on campus to help me, and meet new people.”

Along with informative booths, the fair included a photo booth where friends could pose together with mental health quotes, “promise trees” that encouraged students to write down anything they wanted to promise themselves they would work on and hang it on a branch so other students could see they weren’t alone in what they felt, and free T-shirts being handed out by A.S. representatives.

“It is important to know that you are not the only one. You are not alone in feeling this way,” Pearce said.

Looking forward to the next few years, Pearce is hoping that the fair’s goal will be the same. While still in collaboration with Associated Students, University Counseling Services is hoping to host future fairs around Mental Health Awareness Day, which will include bringing in therapy dogs. However, it will be held earlier in the school year to make students aware of their resources earlier in the semester.