February 10, 2020

Purdue Mental Health Awareness Week planned to cultivate a community of care, support

The University’s inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) will take place Feb. 17-21 on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. Via a partnership among Purdue Student Government, several other student groups, Purdue administration and Human Resources, the weeklong awareness event aims to initiate and destigmatize conversations surrounding mental health. 

Throughout MHAW, a variety of events will take place as a way to cultivate a community of care and support among students, faculty and staff. Additionally, MHAW is being held to ensure that Purdue’s community members have the education and resources available to them to understand and practice mental health well-being.

In their most recent analysis, Active Minds, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization in mental health awareness and education for students, found that 39 percent of students experience a significant mental health setback in college. Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness in their lifetime and mental health disorders are the most burdensome health concerns in the U.S. Even after taking other health risks – like smoking and obesity – into account, employees at high risk of depression had the highest health care costs during the three years following an initial health risk assessment.

According to Candace Shaffer, senior director of benefits in Human Resources, mental health is a top priority for faculty and staff, and was the main area of care that Purdue employees requested more of in last year’s post-open enrollment survey.

“Joining Purdue Student Government members and other groups across campus for this inaugural week of raising awareness and putting a spotlight on the mental health of our faculty, staff and students aligns with our Healthy Boiler Program in support of its behavioral health pillar,” Shaffer says. “This event provides another avenue to distribute information, offer meaningful workshops and continue to extend the conversation about mental health across campus.”

Courtesy of HR, faculty and staff from departments across campus each will receive a MHAW Kit containing green bandanas, faculty/staff mental health resource cards and more. Kits will be delivered on Feb. 17, the kickoff day of MHAW.

A webpage with more information, including a link to all on-campus events during MHAW week, can be found here.

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