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OCU First University in State to Form Mental Health Chapter
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City University has established a campus branch club of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), making it the first college in Oklahoma to do so. The mental health support organization is dedicated to teaching the public about the importance of addressing mental illness and helping sufferers find the services they need. NAMI also seeks to remove any social stigmas attached to mental illness. According to Melissa Hakman, OCU psychology professor and faculty sponsor of the club, college campuses are the ideal location for NAMI branches. “Statistics show how important it is for college students to know where to find help when it comes to their mental well-being,” Hakman said. “Stress from entering the ‘real world’ away from home combined with the rigors of school work can be hard to deal with. While it is an exciting time for many students, not all students easily adjust to college life.” According to the American College Health Association, 76 percent of college students feel overwhelmed at some time, and 22 percent of students were so depressed they often could not function. Furthermore, 30 percent of American colleges and universities had at least one suicide. Jinneh Dyson, NAMI Oklahoma education and family support coordinator, noted that her organization has been targeting its message toward college students by letting the students themselves run the NAMI on Campus clubs. “It’s usually the students who get the best results when it comes to promoting things to their peers,” Dyson said. “We give them our expertise, but they know how to reach out to their fellow students and offer help, and they have better insight into what their own campus will be interested in.” For information about NAMI go to www.nami.org.