During the 2022 fall semester, the Student Mental Health Community introduced itself as a new peer support mental health program.

This program is free for all Tech students to utilize with four meetings a week. Senior Mental Health Professional of Student Mental Health Communities Serena Shade said these groups were created to initiate counseling that is peer focused. 

These peer-focused groups allow students to build relationships with other individuals who may be experiencing the same things. There are multiple meetings held throughout the week with topics including general mental health, grief and eating disorders. 

“You only go to counseling one hour a day, so what does a student do when they have all of these other hours in the day where they could be struggling,” Shade said. “Being able to connect with other people that have gone through similar experiences as you, it empowers you, ya know? You can see that other people get through things.” 

The student mental health community is located on the second floor of the Collegiate Recovery Communities building at 1301 Akron Avenue. Other than the meeting space, this floor is also designed to be a safe space for students to occupy, whether they need to destress and decompress, or go and study. Free snacks and coffee are provided on the second floor along with a 90-inch TV with streaming services. 

“It’s just a place in our area where we say it’s okay to not be okay,” Shade said. 

A normal meeting starts with all attendees sharing their week and having a check-in, including highs and lows. If there are any issues that the students bring up, the peer group will try and advise on what worked for them in the past or emphasize that they are there for them. 

“It’s the most loving group of students you've ever met in your life,” Shade said. “They know what you’re going through and will embrace you and help you through whatever you’re dealing with.” 

The second floor of the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every weekday except Tuesdays, closing at 6:30 p.m. Shade said these wider hours of availability also help with students who feel isolated giving more opportunities to bring them in during the day. 

There are currently 70 students who use this service and Shade wants to expand their numbers in order to try and help and connect students with similar experiences. 

“I think we are going to have hundreds of students in the next couple of years,” Shade said. “But really our main goal is even if we are helping that one student that really needs us. You know, mental health should be a reason why you shouldn't go to school or why you're dropping out. We want to be that release for you to come in and get help and for us to help you stay in school. 

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