MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Dozens of students gathered on the campus of Northern Michigan University to bring awareness to what they say is a need for more mental health resources.
“Basically, we’re here to express our concerns for the mental health resources on campus and hopefully make a change because this is not only a Northern Michigan University issue, but this is a nationwide crisis here. Especially in the midst of a pandemic,” said NMU Senior, Ben Brickle.
Freshman Alex Lucas shared the sentiment of address needs on campus. “So we want to come out here and spread awareness for mental health, especially with exams coming up, because mental health is bound to decline. We’re in a winter for so long of the year. It’s just detrimental to everyone.”
Students including Lucas said they have felt a need for more mental health resources, but the loss of a fellow student on Sunday, April 3rd was a tipping point where they needed to have their voices heard.
NMU issued the following statement earlier in the week:
The Northern Michigan University flag will be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday, April 6 in remembrance of NMU student Jayden Hill, who passed away Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Jayden was a first-year student pursuing a degree in political science with a concentration in pre-law and had aspirations to become a civil rights lawyer. She transferred to NMU in January and was a member of the Wildcat Women’s Track and Field team. Her hometown was Monrovia, Liberia, but attended Coopersville High School in Allendale, Michigan where she was a highly decorated track athlete.
Students held a candlelight vigil in her honor on Monday evening. An obituary and arrangements are pending.
After consultation with the family, the NMU flag is lowered to half-staff and campus messages are sent after the passing of current students and faculty and staff. Questions can be directed to email@example.com.
During Friday’s student gathering, several students expressed concern over why the university did not communicate details of the death sooner. Derek Hall, NMU Chief Marketing Officer explained how the university handles these situations and that communicating these details is a family decision.
“Last Sunday, we had a student on campus, and it’s a very traumatic event for any campus. It happens. You and on Monday, there were a lot of people upset that. We weren’t communicating more about that event. People need to realize on Sunday evening, we called the family and told them. That is a very tough conversation as you could imagine. And then we usually follow up with that conversation a few days later, with the process of your child’s belongings, your university bills been wiped clean. And then one of the questions that in that conversation is, may we communicate to campus the passing of your child to honor that student? We leave it up to the family. It’s not a decision we make. And it’s not a decision we asked them to make in that those first few hours. So we had we had a follow up conversation with the family early Tuesday afternoon.” Hall continued, “So people need to realize there’s some tough things happening in those few days, and we respect the wishes of the family. Our counseling staff are on site within minutes working with residential students, working with teammates who happen to be on the track team. So they’re providing face to face counseling services in those traumatic situations. And to people wondering why we’re not doing anything. We’re doing things but we’re not talking about it. Because we’re working with a family. We honor their wishes and we’re trying to help them through the toughest times of their life.”
Students on Friday hoped their concerns were heard and that the university would make changes to provide more overall resources to students including more counselors and shorter wait times before students can be seen by mental health professionals.
We asked Hall how the university is responding to students and their call’s for help.
“We respect the students choice to gather and voice their concerns. Yes, they’ve been heard. The follow up. That will be determined hopefully, next week,” said Hall.
We asked what steps students are enouraged to take to continue having their voices heard.
“Student students on campus are represented by Student Government. So that’s that’s always a way to talk to the leadership there to express their concerns and ask them to share those concerns with administration. It’s also easy to communicate with our president, everyone has an email address that goes to the president Those are, those are read always. And, you know, students want to have conversations, conversations are able to happen. And we’ve done that on many topics over over time. It’s always been good to communicate, and to work through these issues together,” added Hall.
Students can receive assistance through the NMU Counseling Center (firstname.lastname@example.org, 906-227-2980), the University’s online, off-hours crisis counseling services (1-800-384-1800), and the Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) resource program, or by reaching out to a faculty member, work supervisor, coach or other NMU staff member. Employees can receive support through the Employee Assistance Program or talking to a department head or co-worker.
Here is a link to more mental health resources provided in the community and through the university.