Editors note: This story was updated to include all of CAPS programs. A quote of Anna Lookers was also corrected. 

Mental Health Matters, a Wayne State student organization, held a virtual panel discussion with Counseling and Psychological Services on Thursday, informing students about available mental health services within the campus community. 

About 15 people attended the Zoom event, where MHM members discussed the importance of mental health care on and off campus and shifting the narrative on mental health stigmas. 

MHM was founded by president Fatima Hammoud, junior psychology major, and co-president Mohammad Nasser, junior computer science major.

The group began in December 2020 as a free resource for students.

“When I created Mental Health Matters it was to shed light on a very real and under recognized issue, especially as college students. Not only did students recognize its importance but even my family recognized the importance of this issue,” Hammoud said. “It’s just more so another aim to ending the stigma behind mental health and to bring more light especially at Wayne State University about the very real and under recognized issue.”

The panel discussion was led by Anna Looker, a CAPS university counselor and case manager. Looker also holds virtual group sessions and provides referrals for students in need of additional support. She specializes in care coordination, substance abuse/addiction issues, holistic health and wellness management, chronic health issues, stress, depression and more.

CAPS is a service center for all students who “need to talk to someone who’s really listening and focusing on what you are saying. Everything is confidential,” Looker said.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CAPS has been offering students telemental health services via Microsoft Teams. Students can access CAPS services on its website, starting with a services request form. CAPS offers virtual individual counseling, group counseling, educational workshops, and Lets Talk, which is a 15 to 20 minute drop in consultation with a counselor. 

Students are able to receive a set number counseling sessions with CAPS and help establishing a longterm plan, Looker said. 

“Students are able to receive up to 12 sessions, and if a student is interested in receiving longer-term services, CAPS will connect the student to treatment that is a good fit for their needs in the community,” Looker said.

MHaWC is operated by the College of Education at WSU and provides services statewide. The clinic specializes in counseling/psychotherapy-based and art-based services, according to its website.

Sharing mental health concerns with others is crucial, Looker said.

“I want to encourage any student who is struggling with issues related to their mental health to reach out to CAPS, the WSU Mental Health and Wellness Clinic, the WSU Psychology Clinic and/or someone in their life that they trust, whether it be a friend or family member. Mental health does matter,” Looker said.

MHM provides members an opportunity to openly discuss mental health issues, said Batsheva Khaimov, freshman nursing major and MHM special events coordinator.

“I joined Mental Health Matters because Mental Health is important -- not just awareness but understanding what it is and not only is it stigmatized but romanticizedand watered down,” Khaimov said. “As a board member… I’ve been able to have a safe space.”

Looker said she appreciates the work MHM is doing.

“When I was invited to lead a discussion for the Mental Health Matters club, I was so delighted to discover that the club offers a supportive and informative space for students to connect around issues of mental health,” Looker said. 

The ability to foster an uplifting community among peers is encouraging, Khaimov said.

“Through Mental Health Matters, people really have the choice to show up and I think that’s really beautiful. We're not forcing anyone to be here so we know that when people want to be here we're encountering that positive environment,” Khaimov said.

Chantell Phillips is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at chantellphillips@wayne.edu.

Cover photo provided by Batsheva Khaimov, Mental Health Matters special events coordinator and freshman nursing major.