Every year for the last five years, Honolulu Community College has held a Health and Wellness Provider Fair organized by the school’s Mental Health and Wellness Counselor Kimberley Gallant.
“I thought it would be a great way to educate our campus about mental health, about wellness, in a way that would invite our students, our faculty, our staff to get connected to the community resources,” said Gallant.
More than 45 service providers and community organizations were on hand with information and displays on various topics such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, mental illness, suicide, addiction, anxiety and schizophrenia. The statistics are staggering. One in four adults will experience an episode of depression by age 24 and suicide is the second leading cause of death of college students.
“In terms of just the student body that we deal with and some of the issues that they bring in with them and these are just ways to help them succeed and get on with their degree or certificate,” said Honolulu Community College Chancellor Erika Lacro.
There was also a Wellness Walk around the campus and life size displays made by students to raise awareness about mental health. The displays contained information so students can recognize if they, or someone they know, are at risk. Organizers say it’s all about starting a dialogue and letting students know that help is there.
“It’s also a way to help to reduce the stigma that is related to mental health or mental illness because they have a wonderful opportunity to get connected to the community resources,” said Gallant.
That’s exactly what happened at the fair. Students and staff were able to talk with the health providers and agencies one on one.
“There was a booth that talked about how to relieve stress and how to balance your life with work and school,” said Honolulu CC student Livingston Rowan. “I like it a lot. It has been very informative. I am learning a lot about sexual health and dental health actually.”
“There is a lot of good information for students to learn about,” said Honolulu CC student Todd Sato. “It’s definitely good for people who are thinking about parenthood or preventing parenthood.”
“Just learning more about mental health, keeping better protected for whatever activities we choose to do,” said student Riley Paʻakaula. “It’s great to learn that there are so many community resources out there available to us.”
The Health and Wellness Provider Fair at Honolulu Community College is the largest of it’s kind in the University of Hawaiʻi system.