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JCSU sheds light on mental health during volleyball game

CHARLOTTE, N.C., October 18, 2019 – During the Oct. 10 volleyball game against Livingstone, multiple departments, including Athletics, Counseling Services, Campus Police, University Communications and Marketing and community health organizations came together to shed light on mental wellness for World Mental Health Day.

The Gastonia based health services group, CTS Health, was excited to participate in this event to help break the stigma affecting a number of minorities.

 “We want to be able to say we are here if you do have an issue or a need,” said CTS Health Executive, Hughes Crips.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.

Crisp and Tierra M. Parsons, Director of Counseling Services, hope events like these form relationships with students, break stigmas in the black community and prevent crises.

“When we are able to reach the students, we are able to positively influence them to seek help,” she emphasized.

Collaborating with student events allows Parsons to achieve her goal. During the game, CTS Health provided free shirts to students; university communications and marketing handed out green ribbons and provided mental health fact sheets for students to pose with in photos. In addition, Chief Jermaine Cherry, student advocate Ramel Brown and Parsons spoke to students about the number of services offered to them on campus. 

Parsons collaborations have helped her reach more people in need; she’s partnered with the Health Center to provide mental health first aid to the campus and community, as well as residence life and LYFT for students in need of transportation to area behavioral health departments. Interns with the School of Social Work are also providing support to students through their Friends of the Counseling Center initiative.

“We’ve been very intentional about visiting classrooms to build relationships, hanging with students in the evening and being participants in campus resource fairs,” she said. “We are present at faculty meetings and are available for faculty consultations,” she added.

In addition to raising awareness, Parsons has hired a full time counselor for the first time in over five years and plans to hire a part time counselor to specifically address alcohol and other drugs. 

Her efforts influenced Brown, who started a student mental health initiative Mel’s Minds. Parsons sat on his first panel, which brought together nearly two dozen students for a discussion on mental wellness.

“We may be a small staff but we make a big difference in the lives of our students on our quest to break the stigma of mental health,” Parsons said.

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