Yale Daily News

After a pause of in-person events due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Yale Student Mental Health Association, or YSMHA, recently hosted its Mind Over Matter Fair, providing students with an abundance of mental health resources. 

For the Yale Student Mental Health Association, sparking and normalizing conversations surrounding mental health and wellness is the first step to addressing the larger challenges at hand. Through events and advocacy, the student group works to increase mental health awareness and provide students with the resources they need. Members like co-director Gabriella Gutierrez ’23 work with the hope of fostering a campus environment that is more welcoming and open to the discussions that promote good mental health practices. 

“I think the most valuable aspect of YSMHA is its broad ability to spark conversations about mental health on campus,” campus initiative director Peyton Meyer ’24 wrote in an email to the News. “A huge step towards improving student mental health is simply getting more people to talk about it. I think that when someone becomes more comfortable talking about their mental health, they also become more likely to seek help when they need it and to encourage others to seek help for their own mental health.”

According to YSMHA members, mental health awareness is especially important within the university setting. Co-director Miriam Kopyto ’23 said that colleges and universities across the country are facing a mental health crisis that needs to be addressed promptly. 

Both the pressure to succeed and the abundance of commitments students face serve as contributors to the crisis, Kopyto said, and she believes colleges need to make student mental health and wellness a top priority.  

“Especially at Yale, students feel an immense pressure to excel in their academics, extra-curriculars, and social life, leading students to be overcommitted and often still feeling like they are ‘not doing enough,’” Kopyto wrote in an email to the News. “I think that universities as a whole and their student contingency must work to prioritize mental health.”

YSMHA’s Mind Over Matter Fair was first organized in collaboration with a suicide prevention organization. Since 2018, YSMHA has organized the event independently. This year, mental health awareness organizations set up booths, provided their perspectives on mental health and offered resources to students. The event also featured a performance from the Yale Alley Cats and Cadence as well as a visit from Handsome Dan and Heidi. 

“We’re just hoping to make it clear to the student body that we’re here for them and that we want to work with administration and help promote better approaches toward these mental health issues on campus,” Gutierrez said. 

Moving forward, YSMHA hopes to work alongside administration to continue the conversation surrounding mental health and to enact changes that will allow the University to prioritize student mental health and wellness. The group will also continue to grow their existing initiatives and host mental health panels and talks. 

The Mind Over Matter Fair was held on Saturday, April 2.