Since 1990, the first full week of October has been established as Mental Illness Awareness Week.
In an effort to provide information on mental illness, a common issue among college students, Belmont University has partnered with the campus Psychology Club to hold several convocations on the topic.
“Mental Health Awareness Week is something the Psychology Club has been observing for many, many years. Every year we gather a variety of speakers in the mental health field to come and shed some light on the issues,” said Melanie Chinsoon, president of the Psychology Club.
One of the prominent speakers this year was Stan Overstreet, a crisis supervisor at Mental Health Cooperative in downtown Nashville, Tenn.
Overstreet estimates that the triage counselors, employees that field phone calls to the facility, receive between 200 and 300 calls daily. Roughly 10 percent of these calls result in face-to-face meetings handled by Overstreet and his team.
“We see people in hospitals, phone booths, schools, churches, universities. We just pretty much go everywhere…. But crisis counseling is not therapy. It’s pretty specialized. We are basically looking for symptoms of mental illness, and we are trying to figure out what’s the best way we can go about treating that specific person at that specific time,” said Overstreet.
Mental Health Cooperative is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and employees around 15 rotating crisis counselors for adults. Originally the facility dealt exclusively with adults, but recent changes have allowed the addition of another five or six counselors to handle crisis situations involving children.