In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the CSHP/ASHP chapter of CUSP organized a week-long advocacy project packed with engaging activities and valuable learning opportunities for students, staff, and faculty from Chapman University’s School of Pharmacy and the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. To raise awareness about mental health and cultivate an inclusive and supportive environment on the Rinker campus, the team of students and their faculty and staff advisors offered a diverse range of activities that aimed to engage and educate students.

students stand with poster

Throughout Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, students from both colleges were encouraged to participate in various mental health advocacy opportunities. One of the activities involved writing different aspects of mental health awareness on ribbon-shaped post-it notes, which were later hung as a mural in one of the Rinker buildings. The mural became a collaborative effort as students, faculty, and staff contributed by sharing coping mechanisms, personal experiences, and their thoughts on the importance of mental health awareness. Another popular activity was a spin-the-wheel game where students could win mental health awareness-related projects like lanyards, enamel pins, or stress balls.

Above: From left to right, PharmD ’25 students Megan Ly, Kierra Koehn, Noble Chea, Whitney Chilenos, Joseph Chen, and Youssef Youssef.

Participating in these activities also earned students kelly green ribbons to display on their bags and belongings, advocating for mental health visibility throughout the year, not just in May.

Kierra Koehn, PharmD ’25 and a Student Wellness Committee Member, took great pride in organizing this event to support her peers’ well-being. “When presented with the idea for Mental Health Awareness Week upon becoming CSHP President, I was thrilled to be able to bring a mental health conversation to the Rinker campus. My hope was to provide students with tools and information on how to better their mental health while working through our academically rigorous programs. The attendance we received from the students was overwhelming in the best way possible.”

Right: Megan Ly, PharmD ’25, with prizes. Left: Amanda Hamilton, of Crean College’s PA, gives a prize to the winner

In addition to the games, the project focused on educating students about the mental health resources available at Chapman University. Informative sessions were conducted to provide valuable insights into the various mental health services and support systems offered.

Julie Barbour, a licensed therapist at Rinker Campus’s Student Psychological Counseling Services, was part of the core team of staff and faculty that guided the CSHP/ASHP students on best practices for the event series.

“Events throughout the week are a great way to deliver important information about mental health concerns and self-care in a fun and engaging manner that can serve to reduce the stigma around mental health and accessing services,” Julie says. “Our culminating event provided practical self-care tools with pet therapy, meditation, and calming activities that are valuable tools students can add to their skills to manage stress. Any time we come together as a Rinker community, we provide the opportunity to undermine the loneliness that students experience. They get to see faculty and staff working on their behalf to say, we see you, and we are here for you.”

On the final day, a heartwarming and popular activity involved playing and interacting with small dogs, bringing immense joy and allowing students to experience the therapeutic benefits of being around animals. Another impactful activity during the event was the opportunity for students to write messages expressing why mental health matters to them. These messages were displayed for the entire Rinker community to see, fostering an environment of support and solidarity. By sharing personal reflections, participants encouraged open conversations about mental health, contributing to the reduction of stigma and the promotion of understanding.

Right: Crean student taking advantage of animal therapy. Below: Dr. Jerika Lam, Dr. Mary Guiterrez, and Julie Barbour with Pete the Panther