UT Tyler Mental Health Awareness walk leads to tips, resources for struggling East Texans

UT Tyler Mental Health Awareness walk leads to tips, resources for struggling East Texans
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 4:40 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - October is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the University of Texas at Tyler held an awareness walk on Wednesday.

“I had a long personal struggle with depression and suicide ideation. I suffered multiple childhood trauma including child rape, homelessness, and suicidal parents,” says Terry Britt, the assistant professor of communication who organized the walk.

His past inspired him to be a mental health advocate for students and faculty on campus.

Participants in the walk wore different color beads that represented different struggles.

“Right now, we want to make sure that they know that there are supports here, whether they are the ones struggling or a lot of these beads are if it’s someone that they care about struggling,” says Kim Livingston-Cobb, the Associate Dean of students.

Studies have shown at least half of all college students have reported mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Seeking treatment has become more common as more resources have become available, and as the stigma surrounding mental health has decreased.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen young people taken way too soon through suicide due to online bullying and mental health issues, I think social media has a negative effect in that regard,” says Britt.

Trey Tucker is a licensed mental health therapist.

“The biggest root cause of some of our mental health issues is the fact that we are constantly chasing pleasure and happiness and we think that’s the end goal,” says Tucker.

Tucker says it’s healthier to chase things like significance, meaning, and to want to contribute to something that’s bigger than ourselves.

Exercise is one pillar of what Tucker calls the 3-legged stool of self-care.

“Eating, sleeping, and exercising. If one of those things is out of whack, that stool is going to start getting wobbly,” says Tucker.

Tucker says talking to someone who will listen creates emotional healing. And moving your body can help release healthy chemicals that boost the mood.

“Even just do 10 jumping jacks or something to get your blood flowing just for a few seconds; you release some of the happy chemicals, some of those endorphins, that make it a whole lot easier to think more clearly,” says Tucker.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human services, a person dies by suicide in our state approximately every two hours. If you would like to find mental health resources to help yourself or someone else, click here.