SGB ​​talks mental health, mindfulness at weekly meeting

October is Mental Health Awareness Month. Jay Darr, the associate dean of students for wellness, made it clear that mental health is a community effort.

“I’m able to work with each and every one of you and a few colleagues that we have here to really ensure that well being is a shared responsibility across our campus community,” Darr said.

Student Government Board held a public panel and town hall to discuss mental health resources on campus at its weekly meeting Tuesday night in Nordy’s Place. Darr, Ahmed Ghuman, the executive director of the University Counseling Centerand Jamie Zelazny, co-chair for the Year of Emotional Well-being, spoke on the panel. SGB ​​wellness chair Sarah Siddiqui moderated the discussion.

Ghuman said the UCC has drop-in hours Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, and from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday for students utilizing services in residence halls.

“One of the things that we try really hard to do and strive to do, is create an inclusive counseling center — not just for students, also for the staff that work there,” Ghuman said. “We really do try to make an effort to provide cultural responsive care for students.”

Darr, who also serves as a co-chair for the Year of Emotional Well-being, said the goal of the Year of Emotional Well-being events is to “rejuvenate” students after years of COVID-19 measures.

“We’re taking time to reflect and recharge, particularly as we’re moving into the next phase of public health crises, with COVID, with monkeypox, everything that’s happening in our environment,” Darr said. “This is allowing us to say, let’s take a step back… a year of emotional well being is just that — let’s recharge, let’s rejuvenate ourselves. Let’s ground ourselves.”

Leonie Fink, chair of the judicial committee, asked the panel if they could share their thoughts on the Pittsburgh Higher Education Assessment and Response Team program that the UCC and Pitt police collaborate on. The HEART program allows Pitt police and certified clinicians to respond jointly to welfare checks called on students between Tuesdays and Saturdays from 2 pm to 10 pm

“It’s a very novel program,” Ghuman said. “There’s only seven universities across the country that have this response model. We’re fortunate to be one of the first universities to have such a program.”

Derek Dressler, SGB board member and vice president of governance, asked if the HEART program could be extended to responses to reported sexual assaults.

“As we begin to look at that expansion, and our clinicians are trained to handle any type of crisis that takes place … getting connected with our colleagues at PAAR [is important] and also ensur[ing] that they’re receiving support that’s needed,” Darr answered.

Isabel Lam, a board member and vice president of operations, asked for the panel to share tips for students to improve their mental health on a day-to-day basis.

Zelazny said it is important to prioritize time for yourself.

“I know that’s hard for a lot of students to do, because you think of all the things you have to do and all the tests you have coming up … but you need to sort of block that time off as well,” Zelazny said.

Ghuman said he suggests students practice mindfulness as a way to maintain mental health.

“Slowing down sometimes, being mindful of everything that’s going on because we… function on autopilot from one thing to the next. We don’t really slow down and kind of savor all of our experiences,” Ghuman said. “Having the awareness of when you’re getting too stressed out, when you need to step back, when you need to engage in self-care — that’s really important too.”


National Society of Black Engineers requested $7,261.03 to cover lodging and travel expenses to send members to a national conference. The board voted to approve $2,620.30 due to a four person cap for national conferences as per the allocations manual.

The Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science requested $2,494.17 to cover lodging and travel expenses to send members to a national conference. The board voted to approve the request for $1,851.17 to cover only one hotel room as per the allocations manual.

American Institute of Chemical Engineers requested $2,632.24 to cover lodging and travel expenses to send members to a national conference. The board voted to approve the request in full.

Men’s club basketball requested $1,760 to pay for competition dues and uniforms. The board voted to approve the request in full.

The board also voted to approve bill JB.2022.3. The contents of this bill were not shared at the meeting. The bill will be available to the public on the SGB website soon.

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