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New semester, new mindset

In an effort to spread awareness about student mental and physical health, NMSU’s Office of Health Promotion hosted Healthy Aggie Week to begin the semester.  

New Mexico State University’s Office of Health Promotion hosts a three-day Healthy Aggie Week event. Students participate in activities on mental and physical health and win free prizes on Monday, Aug. 29 through Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Health Promotion)

The event was a part of this year’s Crimson Kickoff series and was held at the main campus outside of Zuhl Library from Aug. 29 to Aug. 31, 2022. Students were encouraged to participate in a variety of activities and walked away with free prizes promoted by Aggie Cupboard. 

Jude Betancourt, a health education specialist with the Office of Health Promotion, said that interns and student peer educators helped them set up the event.  

I feel like the beginning of the semester is the time to really reach out to people,” Betancourt said. 

Each day consisted of different objectives. On Monday, there were physical well-being activities that informed students on nutritional facts and benefits of healthy eating. Other activities provided information on sexual wellness and proper use of contraceptives. 

Mental health awareness was the primary focus on Tuesday, creating a space for students to discuss their different types of coping mechanisms.  

Frida Porras, a staff member at the Office of Health Promotion, said students were asked what they do for pleasure, spiritually, emotionally, or physically to feel better. Then, on a whiteboard, they were asked to write what mental health means to them or what motivational words they found encouraging. 

“Mental health is kind of a stigma, so a lot of people don’t really look into it because they feel like they are being judged,” Porras said.  

She also explained that many students are unaware of the resources offered by the university. 

“The counseling is free. Maybe people don’t go to counseling because they don’t have insurance or something, but here, they can definitely get to do that,” Porras added. 

Frida Porras and her coworker discuss mental health coping skills with NMSU student on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, outside of Zuhl Library. (Photo by Elizabeth Kidd/Kokopelli)

Wednesday’s event covered alcohol and drug prevention. Students were taught the different side effects and issues that could arise by mixing alcoholic beverages with certain types of drugs. According to Alan Dennington, M.D., at least once a month, 5.4 million college students admit to using narcotics and binge drinking.

Reagan Mitchell, Office of Health Promotion employee and NMSU student, explained that getting back into the school routine can be difficult, and can spark feelings of depression and anxiety. She says that hearing other students converse about how they cope and what they do for themselves was inspiring. 

“Seeing that all these other people are dealing with this stuff too has made me feel better; knowing that I’m helping others, and they are also helping me,” she said. 

Mitchell believes that the more we spread awareness, the more lives can potentially be saved.

More information on Aggie wellness — including information on substance abuse, mental well-being and sexual health — is available on the NMSU Office of Health Promotion website.  

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