Mental Health Week at WMU aims to raise awareness, offer resources

Contact: Erin Flynn
Mental Health Week is October 19-23.

10/23/20 Update: Due to inclement weather this morning, the Hike for Mental Health Awareness will not be taking place in person at Asylum Lake. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to take a mindful walk on your own time today or over the weekend and tag @westernmichu and @wmuwsa including #BeWellBroncos to participate virtually.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The pandemic has taken a toll on student mental health. A recent Active Minds survey found 76% of college students report their mental health has worsened since COVID-19 emerged as a global threat, citing increasing feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness. Western Michigan University is highlighting the importance of intentional self-care and mental health management.

“Student well-being is a top priority for us at WMU. During this time of heightened anxiety and racial tension, it is important to know we have resources available to assist students as they navigate these challenging times,” says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs. “We’re asking students not to try to go it alone; we would love to come alongside and assist. Mental Health Week is the perfect time to explore the many and varied resources available."

WellTrack, a self-guided, self-help application focused on social and emotional well-being, is a new resource that launched this year for the WMU community. Sindecuse Health Center also added intake counselors to broaden assistance for students and telehealth appointments to access professional counseling services safely during the pandemic.

“We want students to know that the array of feelings they might be experiencing is not unusual, but the key is to not get stuck in the difficult emotions. Taking care of yourself and asking for help if needed are signs of strength,” says Bre Traynor, assistant director of mental health outreach. “The week is designed to bring awareness, but really mental well-being needs to be our top priority ongoing.”

Mental Health Week, sponsored by WMU Student Affairs and the Western Student Association, runs Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 23. It features a variety of events to highlight wellness resources the campus community can utilize. In addition to events, all week long the University will be sharing tips to help students take care of their mental well-being using the hashtag #BeWellBroncos on various social media platforms.



“You Matter” Challenge: Send a virtual reminder to someone who matters to you. Let them know you are thinking of them and share why they are special to you. Be sure to tag your friend, @westernmichu, and @wmuwsa  to be featured on the University accounts.

Yoga for mental well-being: Join Kylie for a yoga session at 3 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center indoor tennis courts or virtually on the SRC’s Facebook page. This practice will focus on taking care of our mental well-being. Allow yourself to find your inner Zen. All skill levels are welcome, but participants will need to bring their own yoga mat, blanket or towel to the event. Participants will be required to wear a face-covering (mask), bring their Bronco ID and show a valid GREEN Sindecuse health badge to check into the event.


Get the Tea on Mental Health: Listen to spoken word about mental health, discuss support strategies and participate in chalk-writing to discuss mental health from noon to 3 p.m. at the flagpoles near Sangren Hall.


Western CARES: Helping a Friend in Distress: Bre Traynor, assistant director for mental health outreach, will review current trends in mental well-being, common warning signs of distress, how to respond effectively to a friend who is struggling and how to identify when and how to share resources to someone in need. This event is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Bernhard Center East Ballroom as well as live-streaming to WMU’s Youtube channel.


Therapy dogs: Pet away your stress and worry from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the flagpoles by Sangren Hall.


Hike for mental health awareness: Breathe in the outdoors and join us for a socially distant hike for mental health awareness at 10 a.m. at WMU’s Asylum Lake Preserve. Anyone not near campus can walk wherever you are and tag @westernmichu to be featured in our posts. Participants will be required to wear a face-covering (mask), bring their Bronco ID and show a valid GREEN Sindecuse health badge to check into the event. Participants should meet at the parking lot off South Drake Road.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.