By David Miller
*UPDATE: Due to Stillman’s campus transitioning to virtual instruction through Sept. 26, all in-person events have been postponed until further notice.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College is taking a unique approach to fostering good mental health across campus.
Informing students of community resources and broadly promoting mental health are vital steps in helping them maintain high academic performance and avoid dropout, and Stillman’s “Take a Swing into Mental Health” event on Sept. 19 will put a fun spin on an often difficult conversation.
Take a Swing into Mental Health will introduce students to the relaxing game of golf, while also connecting them with Tuscaloosa-area mental health agencies, which will have information tents at the event.
Take a Swing into Mental Health begins at 2 p.m. at the old football practice fields behind Roulhac Hall on Stillman’s campus. Participants can compete for prizes in a variety of events, like “closest to the pin,” and putting challenges on simulated greens on nearby tennis courts.
The event is free for Stillman students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Stillman alumnus and comedian Jermaine “Funnymaine” Johnson and Big Dawg Dre Day of 105.1 The Block will host Take a Swing into Mental Health. Catch a Taste and Archibald & Woodrow’s will have food trucks on site.
According to a recent survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of students in the United States who drop out do so because of mental health disorders. Additionally, 50% of those students said they didn’t have access to mental health services.
“We are committed to providing mental health resources to our study body, because we understand that quality mental health ensures quality of life and aids in student success and retention,” said Dr. Tyshawn Gardner, vice president for student affairs. “We want mental health awareness to be a priority on our campus because, it is a vital part of a wholistic education.”
Mental health and community agencies that will provide information at the event include:
- The ARC
- Child Abuse Prevention Services
- Tuscaloosa VA Hospital
- Jenni Vanhorn, of Perception Counseling
- TMS Counseling
- North Harbor
- Family Counseling Services of West Alabama
- All Things New Counseling Services
Stillman’s club golf team will help facilitate the lessons and competitions. Additionally, tennis challenges will be held simultaneously at the event.
The college’s interest in golf extends to the classroom, too, where Stillman President Dr. Cynthia Warrick and Isaac McCoy, dean of Stillman’s School of Business, created a course that explores how business, golf and life intersect. The program had grown from five students to 18 before COVID-19 limited in-person instruction, Warrick said.
“Connecting students to golf’s mental health benefits is a win-win,” Warrick said. “It promotes both a healthy mind and a healthy career.”