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Focusing on Mental Health

Chancellor Agrawal and UM System launch initiatives to improve wellness
Scrabble tiles that make up the words Mental Health on a cream background, green leaf to the right of the tiles

Chancellor Agrawal’s new initiative at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Roos for Mental Health, is part of the university’s commitment to maintaining a culture of care.

Did you know that one in four adults will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives? And that nearly two-thirds of people don’t seek treatment because of stigma, discrimination or lack of understanding?

navy box with white text that reads Roos For Mental Health

Roos for Mental Health is aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness, creating opportunities to enhance self-care for students, faculty and staff and offering education about the importance of nutrition, physical activity and communication.

“Seventy-five percent of serious adult mental illness starts by the age of 25 and these conditions are better managed when diagnosed and treated early on,” says Kathryn Brewer, visiting assistant professor and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health.

The initiative will kick off a year-long campaign during the Kansas City Roos men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 18, followed by activities throughout the week including a lunch-and-learn on Tuesday, Nov. 19, from noon–1 p.m. in Swinney Center. The topic will be how nutrition affects mental health. It is free to attend and open to students, faculty and staff. Sign-up through the IMLeagues website.

“The program wouldn’t be possible without the work and dedication of the staff, faculty and students who are volunteering their time to the committee and at events,” says Brewer.

In 2020, each month will focus on a related topic with corresponding events and resources.

  • January: Drugs and Alcohol
  • February: Eating Disorders
  • March: Self-Injury
  • April: Sexual Assault
  • May: Mental Health
  • June: PTSD
  • July: Grief and Loss
  • August: Happiness
  • September: Suicide
  • October: Domestic Violence
  • November: Depression
  • December: Stress and Anxiety

“We take a holistic approach when looking at mental health and wellbeing — not just in terms of counseling but also by looking at things like exercise, healthy sleep patterns, social support and other activities that contribute to a healthy and balanced life,” says Arnold Abels, director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health.

“These initiatives will save lives. The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students." —Kathryn Brewer, co-chair Roos for Mental Health

“We are working to better utilize our existing services and develop more proactive strategies to address the needs of students, faculty and staff,” says Brewer. “The Sanvello app is a good example of that.”

photo of a smartphone screen with the words Hello, Roo, How are you? on it to show what the Sanvello app looks like

The Sanvello app offers on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression. The University of Missouri System is making the app available for free to anyone who has a UMKC email address. Sanvello has a range of features including mood tracking, coping tools, guided journeys and community support to promote healthy habits and behaviors.

“These initiatives will save lives,” Brewer says. “The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students. Through Roos for Mental Health we’ll provide the resources and support to help students on their path to mental health and wellness.”

Look for more information to come on Roos for Mental Health events, activities and resources.

Published: Nov 11, 2019

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