GCC Mental Health Fair Becomes a Smash Hit Among Students

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Glendale Community College has put on its 3rdannual Mental Health Fair, an exciting event that explained the importance of mental health.

“I started this because when I came to GCC I worked in the field of metal health for more than 17 years. There seemed to be a lack of mental health awareness,” GCC counselor Dr. Thomas Aubrey said.

According to Dr. Aubrey, 1 in 5 community college students suffer from a mental illness. 60-70 percent of those students drop out of school due to their illness. Aubrey wanted those students to find a way to get checked and on a path of recovery.

In order to do this, Aubrey created a team of individuals to organize the event. The team included several students and an intern.

This year the team focused on not just mental health but total health, claiming that a person’s total health can affect their mental health.

To honor this idea, the team invited a mindfulness van that had meditation sessions every 15 minutes. There were yoga sessions, a rock wall from the U.S. Army and live music from Somos Charros y Cantamos Si Senor. Free Massages, physical and mental assessments were provided as well.

This year, the Mental Health Fair had several conferences some including information on how to cope with anxiety and mindful eating. There was also information on gambling addiction.

The most anticipated event however was a presentation with suicide survivor and motivational speaker Kevin Hines.

Kevin Hines was a foster child that was adopted at the age of 16 and then diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 17. When he was 18 he attempted suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge and miraculously survived. The moment after he jumped he realized he had made a mistake and ever since he has been working towards teaching others about his experience and inducing hope in the community.

“This is a story of hope not just for people with mental illness but for everyone,” Aubrey said.

The Mental Health Fair also included a career fair and booths dedicated to helping students succeed. There was a van that helped students learn how to dress for an interview. These aspects of the fair focused on the outwards appearance of the students and their successes.

“According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, to reach the top point that is your success. So basically, getting a new job, finishing school. Everything goes hand in hand. If you have good health and good mental health then you can achieve things. If you feel successful, then you feel better and then you feel good,” Cristal Navarro said.

Cristal Navarro was one of the students that was involved in the planning process of the Mental Health Fair. Navarro is Hispanic and thought of her family and how they would like to be included but the language barrier made it difficult. In order to make it possible for the Hispanic community to get involved Navarro contacted Univision and Entre Mujeres Radio station so the community could be made aware of the fair and follow along with its events.

There were also presentations offered in Spanish that Spanish speakers could attend.

“If we have the students here and they are trying to do their best but then they have trouble at home then they are not doing their best here. That’s why we also wanted to incorporate the community because it goes together,” Navarro said.

If students missed this year’s Mental Health Fair they will be able to attend next year’s events.