The Graduate School at New Mexico State University hopes to start a program to help graduate students connect with each other and find resources to help with mental health issues.
The Graduate Wellness Initiative is a new program starting up at NMSU that hopes to fill the gap in programing and events aimed toward graduate students. Natashia Senade is in her first semester as a graduate student in the public health department and is one of the three students working on the Graduate Wellness Initiative. She said that though they haven’t chosen a specific start date, they are hoping to get some programing together to start getting graduate students connected by the end of February.
The Graduate School has high hopes for the initiative and wants to keep it going for many years to come. “Everyone needs a social connection. So, as long as we get new students, we need new connections,” Senade said.
Tyson Nickerson is in his final semester as a graduate student in social work. He said to help guide them, the three students have been researching what other schools have been doing, and they are currently working on a monthly newsletter with events graduate students might like. “It’s more just a way to connect students with each other and to the school and different things happening, and then also highlighting available resources like health and wellness [and] the tutoring services. There’s a lot of resources available for people who might be struggling in other areas — other than social — and so although we’re not focusing on that specifically … we can make recommendations or referrals or provide information for that type of stuff,” Nickerson said.
He said they feel like there is a big difference in how much information is given to undergrads and graduate students, that undergrads are constantly being told about events, whereas graduate students are not. “There’s a lot of resources and programs that happen on campus that we just don’t really hear or know about … the information is out there if we choose to go and find it, but if you don’t know about it, you don’t go to find it,” Nickerson said.
But gathering and sending information about events is not the only plan for this initiative. Maddison Carr, a first-year graduate student in clinical mental health counseling, said she hopes to create events for students to help students. “We’re not providing specific mental health services. [We’re] more just trying to fill the need that we see at the time. We want to [offer] a diverse array of events. We want to try and target the different realms of wellness,” she said. Carr indicated these events could include group hikes, yoga sessions, emotional wellness and support groups, too.
She said she thinks this will be beneficial to NMSU because “improving the mental well-being of the students will improve not only performance, but the general atmosphere of the campus. Ideally, everyone that comes here would be healthy and happy and productive, [but] not everyone can achieve that on their own just by circumstance or what have you, and so we want to help.”
Alicia Pacheco, who is in her final semester as a graduate student in education/physical education — and is not involved with the initiative — said that she feels like NMSU does a good job at providing resources and events for graduate students. “Although I haven’t taken advantage of the resources available, I do get many emails about different resources and events that the university has for grad students, [but] I think undergraduates may have more resources or at least advertised more.”
Even though there are resources available, Pacheco said that connecting with other graduate students is hard, and after a year and a half she only knows a couple other graduate students from classes or an already established friendship. “Part of that is because I am the only person currently getting my master’s in physical education,” Pacheco said.