Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when people come together to raise awareness about mental health and the importance of taking care of our social-emotional well-being. This month provides an opportunity to destigmatize mental health and encourage individuals to seek help and support. Mental health is an essential component of our overall health and wellness, and yet it is often overlooked or neglected. In this blog, we will explore various aspects of mental health, including defining key terms, ways to destigmatize mental health, and providing resources available for those who need support at Rowan University. Let's start the critical discussion and work together to promote mental health awareness this May and beyond! 


Key Terms: 

Addiction - Diseases characterized by compulsive drug or alcohol use despite harmful consequences.

Anxiety - A mental health condition characterized by excessive worry, fear, or nervousness that can interfere with daily activities.

Brave Space – A space where those who enter have the courage to face danger or threats to their perceptions. This environment aims to challenge implicit and explicit ways that privilege and marginalization play out for different identities. In this space, individuals are willing to take risks and be vulnerable by engaging in painful or difficult experiences, including changing how they understand and engage with the world and redefining their preconceptions of “expertise” and negotiating power. These spaces provide support for the destabilization that occurs during these experiences.

Depression -  A mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in daily activities.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as military combat, sexual assault, or natural disasters.

Mental health advocacy - Critical efforts to promote awareness, education, and policy change surrounding mental health issues.

Mindfulness - A mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment and accepting one's thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Neurodiversity – Neurodiversity is the full range of variations in cognition, learning, behavior, and socialization that exists within the population. Individuals identifying as neurodivergent may include those labeled with dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, autism, and Tourette syndrome.

Self-care -  Actions taken to maintain and improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Some examples include: yoga, meditation, journaling, or quality time spent with loved ones. 

Stigma - Negative attitudes and beliefs surrounding mental illness that can lead to discrimination and social exclusion.

Suicide prevention -  Efforts to reduce the risk of suicide through education, support, and access to mental health resources.

Support groups -  Communities of people who share common experiences and provide emotional support and resources for one another.

Therapy -  A form of mental health treatment that involves talking with a trained professional to address emotional, behavioral, and psychological issues.

Trauma - A distressing or disturbing event that can cause physical and psychological harm.

Trigger Warning/ Content Warning - A statement providing notice that the content following the warning contains writing, video, audio, etc. that could potentially be distressing for some people who previously experienced related trauma. These warnings give each person a chance to avoid content that could negatively affect their health.

Ways to Destigmatize and Support Mental Health: 

Destigmatizing mental health involves changing the way people view mental illness and those who are struggling with it. Here are some ways to destigmatize mental health:

Education: Being informed can help with educating others and getting them the help they need. Increasing awareness and knowledge about mental health can help to reduce stigma by countering misconceptions and myths about mental illnesses and trauma. 

Recognize the Intersections of Mental Health and Minoritized Communities: Mental health stigma is even more difficult in communities or cultural groups where some individuals experience additional, unique stressors due to overlapping forms of oppression. For instance: 

  • The stigma, prejudice, and discrimination members of the LGBTQIA+ community often face can lead to a range of health conditions, including mental health issues. 
  • Historical systemic racialized oppression in the United States continues to (re)produce trauma and violence, which impacts the emotional and mental health of Black youth and adults. A significant barrier that Black communities face is a lack of access to mental health resources, which include a shortage of mental health professionals in Black communities, a lack of insurance coverage for mental health services, and systemic racism within the healthcare system that can make it difficult for Black individuals to access the care they need.
  • Indigenous communities have faced significant challenges when it comes to mental health. Colonization, forced removal from ancestral lands, and cultural genocide have all contributed to intergenerational trauma. It is important to raise awareness about these issues and to work towards healing and support for Indigenous peoples. One of the biggest barriers that Indigenous communities face in accessing mental health resources is a lack of culturally appropriate services. Many mainstream mental health services do not take into account the unique cultural and historical context of Indigenous peoples. For example, many Indigenous communities place a strong emphasis on community and spirituality, which may not be reflected in traditional Western mental health practices.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander communities also face discrimination and often struggle with the model minority myth: the idea that all Asian American Pacific Islander individuals are well-adjusted and successful. This myth overlooks the challenges faced by this population, with research showing a relationship between discrimination and the mental health challenges faced by Asian Americans.
  • Latinx community members may describe their mental health symptoms as physical ailments to their healthcare provider who may have a lack of cultural competence to properly care for them. For example, an individual may describe feeling nervios”, fatigue, headaches, or other physical ailments, while these symptoms are consistent with depression, a provider without training on how culture influences a person’s interpretation of their symptoms is highly likely to misdiagnose them. This cultural difference in explaining symptoms to a provider can lead to a misdiagnosis or overlooking a mental health condition altogether.

Language. The language we use when discussing mental health can have a powerful impact on stigma. For example, it is important to avoid using hurtful words and labels such as “crazy”, “psycho,” and “strange” when talking about yourself or someone else with a mental illness. Related, try to avoid using mental illness diagnoses as casual descriptors because it stigmatizes actual mental illness. For example, instead of saying, “Ally is so OCD about this project,” try “Ally is focused on the project’s details.” Using language that is more respectful and inclusive, rather than stigmatizing or derogatory, can help to reduce stigma and promote empathy and understanding surrounding mental health.

Empathy: Listening to and empathizing with those who are experiencing various forms of mental illness can help to reduce stigma. Rather than judging or blaming, it is important to provide compassion and support, which can help some people feel more comfortable seeking help and talking about their experiences. Seek to continue to provide support, whether for yourself or for others, by offering compassion and dignity through your thoughts, words, and actions. If there is someone in your life struggling with their mental health, the best thing you can do is reach out and start a conversation. Educate yourself on the realities of living with mental health issues and confront any feelings of judgment you may have. Supporting those in your life can spread the message of awareness and acceptance.

Advocacy: Advocating for policies and programs that support mental health can help to reduce stigma. Supporting mental health initiatives and challenging discriminatory practices and policies can help to promote change and reduce stigma. There are many opportunities for fundraising, community outreach, and awareness events during Mental Health Awareness Month. National organizations such as Mental Health America (MHA), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the National Institute of Mental Health hold events and fundraisers. NAMIWalks is a national event where people come together to walk, promote awareness and raise funds. MHA provides a campaign called Tools 2 Thrive, which provides education on mental health conditions and tools and tips for people to improve their mental health. 

Seek Help: Seeking help for mental health issues when needed is important. It's important to recognize that mental illness is not a personal failing, and seeking help, such as therapy, is a sign of strength, not weakness. Encouraging others to seek help and showing support for those who do seek help is important to reduce stigma and reassure those around you. 

In addition to these steps, it is important to recognize the role that community support can play in promoting mental health and well-being. Creating brave and supportive spaces where individuals can come together to share their experiences and offer each other support can be a powerful way to promote mental health. 

Support and Helplines

The Wellness Center, available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.: 856-256-4333. For an emergency on the Glassboro campus, call Rowan Public Safety at 856-256-4911.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7: 800-273-8255

NJ Suicide Prevention Hopeline, available 24/7: 855-654-6735 or text “NJ” to 741741

The Trevor Project, available 24/7: 1-866-488-7386

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or


Rowan Out of Darkness Walk 

This past weekend, Rowan University hosted The Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, which is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) signature student fundraising series, designed to engage youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide, a leading cause of death.

If you're looking for support and/or resources, please visit and

As a community, we were able to raise over $16,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention! 

Rowan Thrive 

Rowan Thrive strives to support and build a campus community that provides the foundation for the life-long well-being of each student, employee, partner, and alumnus affiliated with Rowan University and the Rowan Colleges. Rowan Thrive is an institutional priority to continually mold thriving individuals to be citizens that use a lifelong model for reflection, resilience, meaning, and life-long happiness. There are six dimensions to Rowan Thrive which includes: 

  1. Physical Well-Being - Being well physically means more than eating more fruits and vegetables. It means getting moving in ways that you find fun.It also means getting consistent sleep, keeping appointments with health-care providers and making conscious decisions every day to take care of your body.

  2. Social Well-Being - Having a sense of belonging—and a connection with others—can significantly impact your well-being. Getting involved on campus is a great way to find others who share your interests and passions.

  3. Emotional Well-Being - Your emotional well-being—your ability to cope with and learn from life’s ups and downs—is just as important as your physical well-being. These resources can help you recognize your emotions and reactions, learn how to respond to them, and realize that the struggles we face also help us grow.

  4. Community Well-Being - When we foster an inclusive community and promote an environment of empathy, civility and respect, we help ourselves, empower others and contribute to the common good. We also feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.

  5. Purpose Well-Being - At a fundamental level, we all need something to do—and, ideally, something to look forward to--when we wake up every day. Finding your purpose—identifying and pursuing things that bring meaning, motivation and joy to your life—is essential to your well-being. Career decisions can play a big role in purpose well-being, but many find their purpose beyond their careers. Find your purpose—whether through your work, your family life, or through serving others—and pursue it every day.

  6. Financial Well-Being- To be sure, having financial well-being impacts many other areas of your personal well-being. When you’re able to balance managing your money, spending responsibly and saving for the future, you can achieve financial well-being. Those skills last a lifetime.

Resources for continued learning: 

Professional Development - Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training 

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) is an evidence-informed approach to suicide prevention. Participants in this 90-minute program learn to recognize signs of suicide in their students, classmates, friends, and family - and learn how to make a life-saving referral. Workshops are limited to 30 people in-person and 20 people virtually. The virtual option is only available to faculty and staff. To inquire about a session, please email Allie Pearce at

Social Media Accounts: 

@queerappalachia - Queer Appalachia is a platform that promotes social justice and mental health advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals in rural areas.

@latinxtherapy - Latinx Therapy is a mental health organization that provides resources and support for Latinx individuals and families.

@indigenouslifeways - Indigenous Life Ways is a platform that promotes Indigenous cultural practices and offers resources and support for mental health and wellness.

@nativewellnessinstitute - Native Wellness Institute is an organization that offers training, education, and resources to promote mental health and wellness within Indigenous communities.

@indigenoushealingfoundation - The Indigenous Healing Foundation is an organization that offers counseling and support services for Indigenous people who have experienced trauma.

@projectlets - Project LETS (Letters to Embrace the Truth) is an organization that focuses on mental health advocacy and support for marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color.

@wellnesswithakua - Akua Konadu is a licensed therapist and mental health advocate who uses her platform to provide resources and support for Black women.

@thelovelandfoundation - The Loveland Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides therapy and mental health support for Black women and girls.

@mentalhealthamerica - Mental Health America is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mental health awareness and advocacy.

@namicommunicate - The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grassroots mental health organization that offers support, education, and advocacy for people living with mental health conditions and their families.

@thegoodtrade - The Good Trade is a platform that focuses on ethical and sustainable living, including mental health and social justice issues.



Ahuja, A., Webster, C., Gibson, N., Brewer, A., Toledo, S., & Russell, S. (2015). Bullying and suicide: The mental health crisis of LGBTQ youth and how you can help. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health19(2), 125-144.

Constantine, M. G., Myers, L. J., Kindaichi, M., & Moore III, J. L. (2004). Exploring indigenous mental health practices: The roles of healers and helpers in promoting well‐being in people of color. Counseling and Values48(2), 110-125.

Hudson, D., Collins-Anderson, A., & Hutson, W. (2023). Understanding the Impact of Contemporary Racism on the Mental Health of Middle Class Black Americans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health20(3), 1660.

Marshall-Lee, E. D., Hinger, C., Popovic, R., Miller Roberts, T. C., & Prempeh, L. (2020). Social justice advocacy in mental health services: Consumer, community, training, and policy perspectives. Psychological services17(S1), 12.

Ramasubramanian, S., Riewestahl, E., & Landmark, S. (2021). The Trauma-informed Equity-minded Asset-based Model (TEAM): The six R’s for social justice-oriented educators.

Wyatt, J. P., & Ampadu, G. G. (2022). Reclaiming self-care: self-care as a social justice tool for black wellness. Community Mental Health Journal, 1-9.