Mental illness group promotes awareness

Noelle Ott

Free pizza is the offer that screams out from their fliers.

This group is new to the campus and hopes to make some progress in the area of mental illness.

The organization is called Hand-in-Hand.

Hand-in-Hand, a satellite group of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, started this fall.

Greg Salzer, junior sociology major and president, along with others, saw there was a need for an organization like this on campus.

“Statistically, [college-age] is when most mental illnesses are diagnosed,” said Salzer.

According to NAMI, one in five families will be affected by a brain disorder.

With 14 members, and about 10 others who are showing interest, the group hopes to reduce the stigma of mental illness on the campus.

“Mental illness does not mean a crazy person in a straight jacket,” said Crystal Hoyt, sophomore mass communication major, and public relation/education officer for the group.

“People with mental illnesses can be normal people that are around you everyday.”

Hand-in-Hand, in its effort to help students, offers support groups for those who have to deal with mental illnesses, whether it is themselves or a loved-one.

“They are willing to listen to you,” said Rose Looney, junior sociology major. “You can use the group, and they’ll help you through it.”

The support group has trained NAMI members to help the students, and they are ran by the students.

Group members gather at 2 p.m. every Friday in Room 313 of Billingsly Student Center.

Hand-in-Hand is also planning to have a Bi-polar Bear lunch on Nov. 11 on the oval, if weather permits.

“We are hoping for a good turn-out,” Hoyt said.

To be an official member of the group, one must pay the $5 fee each semester.

However, $3 of it goes to NAMI of Joplin and the group only keeps about $2 for organizational needs.

“It’s a great organization,” Looney said. “It brings awareness to mental illness … in ways that most people wouldn’t think about.”

For next semester they are also planning a dance called, “Mood Swings.”

A professional DJ will be there as a volunteer for the dance. The group will announce the time and place at a later date.

Hand-in-Hand has its business meetings on the first Wednesday and third Thursday of every month.

For information on Hand-in-Hand, students may e-mail the group at [email protected], or contact Susan Greg in the Project Stay office.