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Roos for Mental Health tackles mental health stigma at UMKC

A UMKC program called Roos for Mental Health is trying to raise awareness around campus about mental health stigma and self care. 

Chancellor Agrawal started the program in conjunction with the University’s Counseling Services and Disability Services back in 2019.   

On the program’s introductory website, there is a section called “Wellness Topics” that offers self care and mental health advice. Some of the topics include sleep as a part of being healthy, information about eating disorders and the stigma surrounding mental health problems.

The organization’s website mentions how debilitating this stigma can be to an individual.

“The portrayal of mental health issues in mass media, like TV shows and movies, perpetuates the stigmatizing stereotypes making people uncomfortable in real life situations because their knowledge is not based on factual information,” the website states.

Scott Laurent, Assistant Director of UMKC’s Disability Services, enjoys working with the Roos for Mental Health program. Laurent said that he works predominantly with students but works with faculty as well.  

Program co-chair Professor Kathryn Brewer said that Roos for Mental Health is heavily connected to the local community.

“We hope to provide more opportunities to connect UMKC and the Kansas City community through a health fair and color walk – both events we would like to begin and hold annually,” she said.  

Co-chair Dr. Arnold Abels said that COVID-19 has been an obstacle for the program. 

“Unfortunately the mental health impact of COVID has enhanced the need for resources and programs that [Roos for Mental Health] is providing,” he said. 

Abels said that funding for the program has also been a sore spot, but there is reason for optimism due to contributions from community donors and Brewer’s efforts.

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