Mental Health Day of Action (May 20)


DT: May 17, 2021

TO: USC Faculty and University Staff

FR: Broderick Leaks, PhD, Vice Chair for Student Mental Health in the Dept. of Psychiatry and The Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Director of Counseling and Mental Health Services in USC Student Health

Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, Chair, Dept. of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences Keck School of Medicine of USC

Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC

RE: Mental Health Day of Action (May 20)

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and May 20 has been designated as a day of action—whether this means taking time for your own mental health, learning about resources, creating space for a self-care practice, connecting through community, or reaching out for help.

We are sharing with you this USC Mental Health Awareness webpage that collects current resources on mental health at USC.

Newly created among these offerings is the Student Journalism Wellness Project, created by USC student journalists (through the Kayleigh Finnie Memorial Scholarship) as a way of raising discussion and awareness of mental health care in the field of journalism.

As the co-editors, Natalie Bettendorf and Eileen Toh, so eloquently expressed as they announced the launching of their website project:

“This project was the brainchild of Karan Nevatia, a dear friend and colleague of ours who struggled with his own mental health. Karan passed away in September 2020, just after he had submitted this very project proposal for a grant from the journalism school. My friend Eileen and I knew that we had to carry out Karan’s project because it is an intersection of the things he cared most about: the power of student journalism and the importance of self-care and self-worth, even in the face of struggling with your own mental health.

These conversations need to continue in this field, and we are so grateful that you contributed your story. Thank you for craving change for the better as much as us! We hope to help this website grow as a resource for student journalists. Please share, give us feedback, encourage other student journalist friends to send in their stories and reach out to us on the ‘Share Your Story’ page.”

We are proud to have collaborated and supported these students as they help erase the stigma attached to mental health and increase support-seeking behaviors. Together we can enhance a community that checks in, listens, asks, connects, makes time for recharging, and protects our collective mental health, especially as we are impacted by the external forces of racism, the changing conditions of the global pandemic, and other world events that may weigh heavily on members of our community.

We will be connecting again over the summer with additional guidance on how to discuss about student mental health, as we prepare for a unique return to campus this fall.