SMC Health and Well- Being Fair
On March 26, Santa Monica College (SMC) hosted its Annual Health and Wellness Fair in an attempt to inform students about the services they provide, and remind them that struggles are obstacles in life that one can overcome. The fair consisted of booths focused on mental, physical, and sexual health.
Diana Brena a representative from Recovery International shares that many individuals like herself have managed to overcome emotional problems by being opened to receiving help. She goes on to explain that promoting mental health specifically to college students is important because they can access the tools needed to deal with obstacles at an earlier age and have “a better quality of life for many, many years.” Diana's favorite part of attending events like this fair, is seeing the "look in the eyes of the person who feels like they are going to benefit and desire to come to a meeting."
Planned Parenthood, which is known for offering assistance in sexual and reproduction health, was also present. Jen Hendrickson, a volunteer for Planned Parenthood says that especially in college, it is crucial for students to know about the resources that are open to them as they are exploring new ground and situations. “I hear more often than not that they are surprise more services like cancer screening and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. A lot of the time people only think we provide abortions.”
Michael Garcia, a student who has been attending SMC for two years states that it’s important to be vocal about mental health and well-being as it is usually avoided in society, especially by the youth. He gives insight to why events hosted at SMC are impactful towards student. “I think that the fact many students are open to the fair, it comes out to be a lot better for those who do suffer with mental health due to the fact that they have somewhere to go, somewhere to be open with it, and the fact that it is free is better because therapy can be hella expensive.”
Omar Gonzales is a mental health Commissioner from the non-profit organization Bienestar Human Services, located in various sites around Los Angeles. Omar Gonzalez along with his team attended the fair in hopes to bring awareness to their facility and in efforts to aid an students that might be going through a rough patch in their life. In addition, he also went in with the goal of informing students about the services Bienestar has to offer. The organization helps individuals that are struggling with mental health and addiction. “Today we seen a lot of kind breaking down of stigma especially around sex and really kinda educating people that there is this whole other spectrum of sexual activities of what people like and don't like. It helps towards combating that stigma," Says Omar. In addition he explains that Bienestar also offers aid to the LGBTQ community.
Nathaniel Guzman, a student who had been attending SMC for four years expresses that when it comes to mental health, individuals need to prioritize themselves more."We live in a society where we constantly compare our self with influencers of social media, like Instagram. We let those thoughts get to us and end up judging ourselves for wanting to be like them when in reality they might be struggling too." He also expresses that men should not be afraid to open up and get help if they need to.He also states that it is important to take breaks during long study session to give your mind a break.
Mental health and our well being is a factor to always keep in mind. We must value our physical and mental health and be more attentive. Being able to stay open to the reality of others and keeping in mind that anyone can be going through harsh times in their life.