Fairmont State unveils programs to address mental health and food insecurity

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Fairmont State University has launched a new program focused on mental health.  

The university will hold monthly health promotion activities for their Falcon Mental Health Awareness Program. The program is funded by a Campus Mental Health Grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.  

Students walking on campus

“Our goal is to ensure that our students are aware that we have mental health services available on campus, that we are there for them and that they are never alone. We are glad that they’re here, and we want to keep them safe and healthy while they’re here,” said Fairmont State Director of Student Health, Chelsea Collins. 

“Coordinating that new structure with this new program only showcases the fact that Fairmont State University is always thinking first and foremost of its family to ensure that they receive the educational services as well as the holistic services that they need to be successful,” Dr. Mirita Martin President, Fairmont State University said. 

The program will focus on key areas including post COVID-19 mental health awareness, suicide awareness, mental health disorders with an emphasis on depression and disorderly eating, high risk sexual behavior, alcohol use and binge drinking, substance use and abuse, stress reduction techniques, time management, adjustments to college life and current events and social issues as they relate to mental health. 

Activities include Wellness Fairs, Yoga on the Quad, Main Street Mental Health in the Falcon Center, residence hall educational programming, stress management sessions and support groups, and more. 

The first Falcon Mental Health Awareness Program activity will be Sept. 8 as the campus community joins together for the “Stomp Out the Stigma Walk and Roll.” During this event, students, faculty and staff will join together for a walk around campus to raise awareness around suicide prevention and negative stigmas associated with mental health.  

“According to the CDC, more than 25 percent of 18 – 24-year olds have seriously considered suicide over the past few months, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Collins. “We aim to combat this statistic through unified, interprofessional efforts to increase awareness and provide education to improve the mental health status of our students and campus community as a whole.” 

The university also unveiled a new way to help students with food insecurity. 

“Freddie’s Pantry” sits fully stocked by Haught Hall. The pantry was put together by the Student Government Association. Its goal is to provide students with a more discreet option for food supplies outside of “The nest” food pantry in the Falcon Center. 

Freddie’s Pantry at Fairmont State University

“The idea of Freddie’s Pantry was born to address food insecurity among the student population, in a way that makes students comfortable,” said Assistant Director of Student Life, Evan Fossen. “We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in this initiative. This couldn’t have come together without the full support of the Student Government Association, the design expertise of our architecture student group and our Physical Plant staff.” 

Fairmont State also partners with the Wesley Foundation and churches to provide one hot meal a day to students struggling with food insecurity.  

Freddie’s Pantry relies on donations with a “take what you need leave what you can” method. 

“Whether it’s our mental health program or our blessing box for Fairmont State to address food insecurities I think what it showcases is a sense of care that our community has among humanity,” Dr. Martin said. “I have always thought, and I have always prayed that emerging from this pandemic that the world would become more compassionate and more humane, and I think we’re seeing that right now through these new programs that are earmarked to address the specific needs of students that perhaps in the past may have been perceived as sickness or may have wanted to be hidden. Now, we’re addressing them head on because we want to make sure that our student, faculty and staff, that everyone who’s here at Fairmont State, all of our falcon family are successful.” 

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