Daemen became the first four-year institution of higher education to join the growing Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, an organization of local groups committing to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
The coalition provides access to an array of resources and education, including crisis hotlines, mental health first aid and help with conditions including anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior and others.
“Being supportive to students and our community about their mental health is part of our value set,” said Tiffany Hamilton, chief diversity officer at Daemen. “This is who we are, and we will be leaders in this space.”
Daemen’s involvement has already started.
Last week, the coalition hosted a Facebook Live forum—”The State of Stigma: Back to College & Supporting Student Mental Health”—featuring Kerry Spicer, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Daemen.
Soon the college will launch the “Take the Pledge” initiative. The Daemen community will be invited to commit to choices that aid in de-stigmatizing mental health, including to:
- Avoid using stigmatizing words like “crazy,” “psycho,” “nuts,” and “insane” in everyday conversations.
- Speak out against mental illness stigma and discrimination whenever they see it.
- Share experiences, stories and information to spread awareness and acceptance of mental illness.
- Continue learning about mental health issues so that they can replace myths and fear with truth and understanding.
“It’s a great place to start to show that our college will be part of changing the narrative and will be part of the solution, with our community serving as advocates,” said Hamilton, who is also director of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program at the college.
“We want to say Daemen has taken the pledge and is part of the movement,” she added.
Helping roll out the Take the Pledge initiative at the college will be the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the CHIP Center‘s Wildcat Wellness team, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s Diversity Ambassadors.
“We want the Daemen community to know that when you’re here, you’re taken care of, and when you’re out in the community, we have partners who will help take care of you,” said Hamilton.
The 16 organizations comprising the coalition include the Erie County Department of Mental Health, SUNY Erie, Mental Health Advocates of WNY, Community Partners of Western New York, Children’s Mental Health Coalition of Western New York Inc., BryLin Behavioral Health System, and others.