In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, prioritize self-care


Kernel Opinion SIG

By the Editorial Board

This month, we at the Kernel join people all around the country in recognizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

In honor of this month and important issue, we would like to encourage all UK students to openly discuss mental health and acknowledge mental health and self-care as normal and important issues on our campus.

Our generation must take the lead in normalizing this natural part of life, and we believe we can achieve this through working together.

The Kernel reported in April 2018 that more than 1,000 reports were filed during the 2016-2017 fiscal year with the Community of Concern, an on-campus resource devoted to addressing student and employee well-being and campus safety. According to that report, that number was a 30 percent increase from the 2015-2016 fiscal year. These numbers are reflective of a growing need for students to talk through the issues that cause stress and anxiety.

That story also quoted current SGA president Michael Hamilton, who said he felt strongly about mental health issues. He and his team are working on mental health initiatives, including a program that would allow ambassadors to freely and openly share about their use of mental health resources on campus such as the Counseling Center. This initiative would greatly help reduce the stigma of seeking help from a mental health professional.

“I think it’s just tackling that stigma,” Hamilton said at the time. “We go to the University Health Services if we have a cold. I want to see, one day, the Counseling Center be that normal.”

We at the Kernel are happy that our student government, spanning several administrations, cares about mental health issues and easing stress levels for students.

We do realize, however, that no initiative or program can work without active cooperation from the ones most affected: students. We encourage each person to not only shamelessly pursue self-care, but be aware of those around you. Check on your friends, your classmates, the student who sits alone in the back of the classroom. Sometimes a simple greeting can do wonders. While we should each make sure we nurture our mental health, we should also be available to help those around us.

Finally, remember that self-care is a constant, daily need. While seeing a therapist or getting other medical help is absolutely vital, that does not negate the need for us to care for each other during day-to-day interactions. You can and should actively check on someone and be available for their needs, even if they are getting help elsewhere as well.

Put simply, be available for each other, while also caring for yourself. Be ready to talk and be ready to listen. We are all in this together, and if we help each other, we can move further toward normalizing self-care and seeking treatment for mental health.