U of A Nursing Students Learn from Mental Health Awareness Event

William Lambert, far left, lighted candles at the mental health vigil. Other nursing students volunteered as ushers and distributed material.
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William Lambert, far left, lighted candles at the mental health vigil. Other nursing students volunteered as ushers and distributed material.

University of Arkansas nursing students volunteered at the annual mental health vigil Oct. 1 in Fayetteville, lighting candles, ushering guests and distributing material.

Cathy Hale, a clinical instructor in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, said 57 students in her mental health nursing class took part in the event that kicks off Mental Illness Awareness Week, a national observance the first week of October. Hale is a board member of Mental Health America of Northwest Arkansas, which sponsored the vigil.

This year's theme was "Inspire, Inform, Involve." Speakers who work professionally with the mentally ill, individuals facing mental illness, and their families, talked about the challenges they face living with a mental illness.

The students wrote a reflection paper following the event. Their writing revealed a better understanding of the struggles facing special populations, such as seniors, veterans and children, Hale said. Those attending the event pledged to advocate for individuals facing mental illness, help reduce the stigma and "illuminate the dark shadows that surround mental illness."

The candles used in the program symbolize the light that committed individuals can use to illuminate the dark shadows and stigma surrounding mental illness, a light that brings hope and help to those in its path.

Contacts

Heidi S. Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu

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