You’re Not Alone (YNA) was once a program for only graduate students, but the organization has now become accessible to the entire student body.
YNA is different from the counseling center, being a student-led organization.
The current President, Lis Leudemann, is acting in her second semester as president, earning the position last February. For Leudemann, the desire for YNA was to give students with mental health struggles a safe place and to a establish an overall more welcoming environment on campus.
“I wanted YNA to be something that looks out for the student body,” Leudemann said. “It makes for a better community for people who are mentally ill and makes Lipscomb a more accepting and aware society.”
She expresses that before YNA was established, Lipscomb was not necessarily putting the issue of mental health on the back-burner, but rather they “put it to the side.” She recalled that during September in 2016, which is nationally known as suicide-awareness month, nothing was publicly done in acknowledgment.
This past September, however, has presented many events to raise awareness for the issue, such as a viewing of the documentary “Looking for Luke.”
The junior psychology major shed light on some of the issues that victims of mental illness face in America.
“There’s a stigma surrounding mental illness,” she said, “that people with mental illness or who have anxiety are crazy or messed up or it is their fault.” Leudemann sayid that might discourage those struggling with mental health from seeking help.
Since being diagnosed with OCD at age 13, Leudemann has dealt with the issues firsthand and understands what it is like to cope with the illness on campus.
After realizing she needed help, Leudemann started counseling through the counseling center as a freshman.
“I walked into the counseling center, and I started two-hour sessions, twice a week,” she recalled. “I realized that having someone to talk with and who would give me advice and who believes that I’m struggling and will help me through that struggle means a lot.”
The YNA president explained that you do not have to be diagnosed with mental illness to struggle with mental health. Stress can come from something as simple as worrying about a test.
Leudemann said she sees suicide-awareness month as a time for finding peace and understanding where mental health fits into a community after a suicide occurs.
“You’re Not Alone here on campus,” Leudemann said. “That’s our name, and that’s our purpose. Our team is committed to be there for you as much as we can.
“We’re going to be prepared; we’re going to be able to help you, no matter what you need.”