UC Davis Mental Health Conference - What You Should Know

Photos are used with permission. Logo credits to Jackie Leonardo. Photo credits to Charles Barry Miin.

On Sunday, February 5th, the first ever UC Davis Mental Health Conference will be held. Her Campus at UC Davis spoke with ASUCD Senator Samantha Chiang (center in above photo) about the conference and her involvement.

What is your involvement with the Mental Health Conference in terms of your title and affiliation?

S: For the UC Davis Mental Health Conference, I am this year’s director and the founder. This is our first year piloting the conference. I would really like to thank my friends Julienne and Daniel, who are both involved in ASUCD. They were actually the ones who came up with the idea to have a UC Davis Mental Health Conference, and they suggested that I take it on as a project.

Where did that idea really come from and what motivated you to take this on, personally and as a member of student government?

S: Currently UCSA, which is our UC Student Association has three campaigns and every campaign spans for two years. Last year one of the campaigns was #HowAreYou, which is a mental health campaign across the UC System. Because of this campaign, a lot of different universities started to promote their own mental health conferences and different mental health awareness programs. During Spring Quarter of 2015, there was a conference in UC Irvine. I managed to secure the funding to send a delegation of 16 people to this conference… I was unable to attend. However my friends Julienne and Daniel who are involved in ASUCD went in my stead. When they came back, they told me that this was not only a healing experience but an educational experience that they could take back to their campus. And they really thought that they wanted one for UC Davis so that they could specifically address issues and also make it more accessible to folks here …we really just wanted to increase accessibility and make resources specific to Davis students.

What will the conference entail and what are your ultimate goals with the conference in terms of a lasting impact on the people who attend or the UC Davis campus itself?

S: For the conference the way it’s logistically formatted is that it’s a one day conference held at the UC Davis conference center. We really wanted to put UC Davis at the center of this and make it so that we are uplifting our own community. The conference includes a series of workshops, panels, an action planning session, and caucuses as well. Our real focus is our two goals. One: we are aiming to provide a healing space for folks and a real community…Our second goal is to help promote the education and destigmatization efforts. A lot of issues with mental health and the stigma surrounding it are due to the lack of knowledge and awareness. … I also really want this conference to serve as a launching pad for the series of events we’re planning in May. While my term as a senator ends this winter, I plan to run for re-election and one of the platforms I’m running on is a month long series of awareness events. Since May is mental health awareness month we thought it would be appropriate.

For those who might not be attending a conference or want to find out more are there any resources that you can recommend to help people learn more about mental health either for themselves or their community?

S: We have the CAN counseling program which specifically addresses underrepresented communities such as the API – Asian and Pacific Islander community, the African Diaspora, Transfer Re-entry Students and Veterans and much more. There are also academic satellites so each college has their own. Other great programs are student run groups. I think that Active Minds and NAMI offer really great opportunities for creating events and stuff, as well as Students Against Suicide. Within ASUCD, we have the Student Health and Wellness Committee which is currently really focused on mental health because the chair is actually the deputy director of our conference. We also have the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation which funnels the “How Are You?” campaign as well as other campaigns that the UC students vote on.

Is there anyone else in particular you’d like to thank?

S: I’d really like to thank Student Affairs for being able to financially support us. I would like to thank Student Health and Counselling Services for offering a lot of their time and effort to making this conference successful especially because the director of both Student Health and Counselling as well as the counselling department will be featured as panelists… A huge shout out specifically to Sarah Han and Cory Vu.

Then in terms of students who have really worked to put this at the forefront, I’d like to thank Anjali Bhat who is the president of Active Minds. She helped us secure a CFC club finance council grant, so the facilities wouldn’t have been able to be used without them. As well as the NAMI president, Jackie Leonardo, who was able to connect us with a lot of different folks on campus as well as design all of our logos free of charge. And lastly I would just like to thank my entire board and all the volunteers. They’ve been so integral into making this happen and I just can’t imagine a conference without them I just don’t think it would have been possible.

 

Thank you very much to Samantha Chiang for talking to HCUCD! Be sure to take a look at the UC Davis Mental Health Conference Facebook Page for more information.