Support for one another is important, especially when it comes to self-care. The Office for Inclusive Excellence has launched a program providing students of various identities with a space to connect and support each other.
Meetings are held every other week for three separate groups: women and nonbinary people of color, Latinx students, and students of color. Associate Director of the Office of Inclusive Excellence, Jhoanna Vega-Rocha facilitates student discussion.
“My hope is for it to be a community space, a space where there could be community healing or just an emphasis of ‘You’re not alone in feeling what you’re feeling,’” Vega-Rocha said.
Support and empowerment groups reflect on personal mental health journeys, popular myths regarding the topic, resources that can help people foster more productive conversations and information about self-care.
The groups work with the idea of radical self-care, which is a largely academic concept that has a three-pronged approach to it. Radical self-care dictates that you cannot truly take care of yourself unless you are taking care of your body, mind and soul. At the first meeting, students filled out a self-care inventory and took an honest look at their habits.
“We actually started talking about boundaries, and what boundaries could look like in communities of color; because in communities of color, boundaries don’t exist … it’s kind of unspoken in a sense,” Vega-Rocha said.
In the past, it has been unfortunately common for communities of color to avoid and stigmatize mental health, which leaves many people suffering in silence. Vega-Rocha wants to bring students together to teach them that they aren’t alone in their feelings and that other community members are doing the same work to get better.
“Growing up, mental health was seen as some huge illness or disease. At least in my relative family, they took it as a cry for attention or thought it was just children being dramatic,” freshman theater arts performance major America Acosta said. “Now that I’m older, I have been able to sort of educate my parents on mental health and get them to understand that everyone is different.”
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