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UAB Mental Health Ambassadors Provide a Platform for Students to Discuss Academic Distress

Academic stress affects all life aspects of students as some are unaware of the mental health resources, according to students in “Let’s Talk: Academic Distress,” an online event organized by UAB Mental Health Ambassadors on Tuesday.

“Once I am academically stressed, I let it affect everything in my life, said Naqi Raza, a mental health ambassador and facilitator of the discussion.

The Mental Health Promotion Ambassadors program is a peer-to-peer mental health promotion program. Students develop mental health campaigns for their peers focusing on mental health awareness, resiliency, and self-care as well as practical skills for addressing concerns, information on mental health services, and activities on campus, according to their website.

Robin Lanzi is a professor in the school of public health who developed the mental health ambassadors program at UAB. She introduced the participants with all the different available resources to students at UAB that include distance counseling resources, mental health apps, and crisis helplines.

One of the biggest limitations in using mental health resources available at UAB is that students are unaware of them, according to Rashmi Nakkina, a mental health ambassador.
“I didn’t know that a lot of freshmen felt like they didn’t have the information available to them. It brings me to think that students will use the resources. They just don’t know about them,” Nakkina said.

Professors play a significant role in academic stress by enforcing strict deadlines even during the pandemic and refusing to work around schedule, according to Duha Aisha, a discussion participant.

“Professors who work around deadlines are really helpful when it comes to academic stress,” said Aisha.

The discussion was beneficial, according to Zuha Fatima, an attendee and a mental health ambassador. “It was great to see people come up with solutions,” Fatima said.

The event exceeded the organizers’ expectations as mental health has such a stigma around it, but “we have to start somewhere and this is our somewhere,” according to Nakkina.

“I did not expect that many people to come, so it was really great to see that.” Nakkina said.

This event shows that mental health awareness is very simple. It doesn’t need a complicated plan, according to Raza. “All we did was ask some questions and the people discussed,” Raza said. “We are really blessed that people showed up and as we were able to see in the chat, many students said that this was needed,” Raza said.

“It takes stress off me,” Raza said, “when I just talk about stresses I am going through.”

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham