Welding students show off their art.

More than 150 students, faculty and staff participated in Honolulu Community College’s first ever College Mental Health Conference coordinated by the campus Wellness Center and Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi on April 5.

The goals for the conference were to explore why it is important to invest in college mental health; engage in interactive and introspective self-care activities; celebrate on-going campus programs and community partnerships; and strengthen ties to community organizations that strive to help all individuals lead healthy, happy and productive lives.

“It was an amazing event that offered an opportunity for students and faculty alike to come together and celebrate college mental health initiatives at Honolulu CC,” shared Kimberley Gallant, licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of Honolulu’s Wellness Center.

The event opened with welcoming remarks by Vernon Viernes, Lili’uokalani Trust; Lara Sugimoto, interim dean of student services and Alapaki Luke of the Hawaiian studies program. An overview of the College Mental Health Project was presented by Gallant and Mara Pike, Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi. Laura Gene led participants in an introspective art activity.

Radio and T.V. personality Augie T. had the room roaring with laughter as the keynote speaker, and faculty and programs were recognized for their commitment to supporting student mental health and well-being by participating in the Wellness Center presentations, College SOS Programming, Relaxation Stations, safeTALK training and Out of Darkness Campus Walk.

From left, Lara Sugimoto, Kimberley Gallant, Augie T. and Mara Pike

Student feedback on the conference

“Mental health and issues related to it is something we need to be more aware of and that services provided are not something to be ashamed of but seen as a tool to better care for our mind, body and spirit.”

“It’s nice to know someone cares for our mental health.”

“Sitting and interacting with other programs was awesome!”

“I enjoyed being able to express myself through art and relaxation.”

“I wish we could have this event every semester.”

View more photos on the Honolulu Community College Flickr site.

—By Billie Lueder