Youth Advisory Board's Policy Hub for Students

Produced by Jay Wang, YAB Co-Chair

The main purpose of this website is to empower students to develop programs and events at their respective campuses to advocate for student of color mental health. The website is designed so that students can observe ideas from other campuses, customize, and implement those ideas for themselves. 

Although society’s interest in and awareness of mental health issues are growing, there are still many misconceptions surrounding mental health and how to combat and cope with challenges.

Ideas & Topics

Peer Educator Programs

These programs are a great way for student advocates to come together and share ideas. For those interested, you might want to start with a smaller student organization to gauge the interest of your student body. However, if you’re a go-getter who likes to start with a “bang,” speak with professors or lecturers about ways to create a course for this program. This can provide an opportunity for you and your peers to learn from mental health experts in the classroom and have a change to congregate and host education and promotion events on campus.

Some examples of peer educator programs are:

Self-Help

As students of color it is important to recognize that you may accumulate emotional and mental baggage while working in the field of mental health. As a result, it’s also important to manage your own mental health and make time every day to take care of yourself. After all, you won’t be able to give 100% if you’re already running on “empty”, right? For those of you looking for more short-term, immediate self-care tactics, look here. And for those that want to tackle more in-depth methods, look here.

Advocacy / Activism

How To’s: In many cases, it doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Many of us think “what if” and start this cycle of self-doubt but the worst-case scenario is that you’ll be told “no”. And if you’re told “no” it’s also a question of “why?” Is the advisor/supervisor you’re talking to saying no for a justified reason? If so, is there a way to resolve this issue and continue on with plans?

How to Start an Organization
Campuses have varying procedures to start a new student organization, but you should reach out to your campus’ version of Student Service, Student Affairs, or Student Activities and ask them about the policies and procedures for starting a new student organization. Typically, you need a handful of interested students and money to pay a fee. If you want to partner with an existing organization/department on campus, go ahead! Reach out and see if they’re willing to sponsor you before making the organization by yourselves but be sure that whatever objectives your organization has doesn’t interfere with the goals and restrictions of the division of the school you’re working with. Everything starts off with one person.

Reform

Sometimes there’s not enough of a foundation on our campuses to truly begin reform/policy work. If this relates to you, maybe start looking at a handful of model schools and research what they’re doing! And if you don’t know where to look, in general, here’s a helpful list of toolkits by Active Minds that you can check out.

Events

How To’s:

Reach out to your Student Services/Affair/Activities office to make sure that you don’t step on anyone’s toes.
Events can be focused on fundraising for programs in your local area (or nationwide) that provide SUSTAINABLE aid

You can also hold a campus-wide awareness event that can range for a couple of hours to a whole week. You could also co-sponsor an event with one or more student organizations to raise awareness and/or funds while building networks on campus.

Counseling

Many campuses have a version of a Counseling and Mental Health Center. It’s up to you to learn about their services and promote them within your communities. Ask for the Counseling Center to provide you with printed resource (i.e., description of services, location and hours, fees, etc.) or their social media handles for you to share. If your center has basic services, you can always advocate and push for the campus to provide other forms of counseling, such as:
[Need to list examples of counseling options]

Workshops

These are especially helpful if you have detailed workshops that help promote means of coping and strategies to address mental health concerns. Workshops are also a great way to involve peer educator programs!

Examples:
Bouncing Back from Failure
The Collective and You

Outside Resources

You can reach out to outside organizations to consult with them about questions and concerns, to start a chapter of their organization on your campus, and/or to invite guest speakers to a campus event! Again, make sure to check in with Student Services/Affairs/Activities to ensure that you are following the policies and procedures for interacting with outside organizations.

Examples of Organizations:

NAMI
Mental Health Network
Steve Fund
JED Foundation
Trevor Project
Active Minds