WSGA pushes to advance the discussion of mental health in WU 101


graphic by Gloriana Noland

Suicide Awareness: Washburn Student Government Association is working to upgrade the teaching styles of mental health in WU 101. The courses have not had adequate representation.

WSGA passed a suicide prevention bill, and opened up the question of how mental health is taught in WU101 classes.

On Sept. 1, Washburn Student Government Association passed a bill commemorating the National Suicide Prevention Month, and verbally commiting to help students recognize suicidal thoughts.

The bill states: “Washburn Student Government Association recognizes that awareness of suicide prevention is critical for the mental health of Washburn students.”

A posting of the bill passed is on WSGA’s social media accounts. Ethan Nelson, the bill’s proposer, strongly encourages Washburn to recognize and educate students about mental health.

“I don’t believe I’ve seen a bill (like this) passed in previous years,” said Nelson. “It is traditional that for each year, the WSGA body passes a resolution recognizing a certain month or holiday, just so that legislation can recognize each particular holiday or month.”

In a WSGA meeting Sept. 22, Nelson, a senior majoring in psychology and English, proposed another resolution called Social Media and Mental Health. Nelson wanted a way for social media and mental health to be taught to freshmen in a WU101 class. But it didn’t pass, due to not knowing how WU101 teaches mental health.

So how is mental health taught in WU101?

All WU101 professors teach mental health and information literacy. According to Bearman, 24 WU101 classes, including online, are in session currently said Dr. Alan Bearman, dean of university libraries.

“Mental health shows up at various different points of the semester,” said Bearman. “We teach students to take control.”

Bearman said each professor of WU101 is required to have a meeting or presentation from Counseling Services and Career Services.

Scheduled service meetings with WU101 classes depend on available slot times in the semester. Bearman also said that both services have three people on staff.

“Everybody gets the same basic set,” said Bearman. “Counseling services have limited staff. Career services have limited staff.”

Though the learning outcomes for WU101 across the board include: information technology and literacy, academic honesty, membership and engagement, collegiate study skills, values of a university education and importance of globalism and diversity. Mental health does not make the list.

Peer Educator Kinsey Kuttler, a junior majoring in kinesiology, said that mental health is taught in WU101 classes, spattered throughout the semester and pooled into topics discussed, depending on each WU101 teacher.

“From the very beginning, I think this is the reason why peer educators are needed in the first place,” said Kuttler. “We’re more open to talk to if they (the students) have issues with mental health. I feel like they would be more comfortable talking to us and asking us for help than they would a professor.”

But Sean Bird, associate dean of Mabee Library said in an interview Oct. 6 that WU101 does not teach mental health, but rather information literacy.