SAMH draws attention to students’ mental health in 2020

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Students attend an SAMH event. Photo by John Ju ’23.

As many of us know, this year has been a challenge for mental health, especially for young people. With increased isolation and unforeseen changes to daily life, many people have struggled to cope. That’s where Students Advocating for Mental Health comes in. 

SAMH, founded in the summer of 2020 by Cecile Wegman ’23 and John Ju ’23, is exactly what their name states: students advocating for mental health through peer representation and implementing student change.

During their first year at Hill, both Wegman and Ju noticed that mental health at Hill needed to be discussed further. In many aspects of student life, they observed a stigma around discussions of mental health. The idea for SAMH was first thought of by Wegman. Reflecting on her own relationship with mental health, she wanted to make something that would address it within students in a better way. 

“I’ve been very close with people that have suffered from different issues with mental health and mental health is very personal to me, so I reached out to my adviser who helped connect me to Mrs. Roethling and I said, ‘I want to change certain things about how we address mental health at Hill.’ Then, John and I were the beginning of SAMH. Everything just took off.”

Afterwards, more and more people became involved, creating the current SAMH that can be seen today.  

One of the aspects of SAMH that the two prided themselves on most was the group’s committed attitude. In their view, that attitude is what allowed them to achieve the goals SAMH had laid out.

“We’re very much doers,” Wegman said. “If someone brings something up to John or I and it’s something feasible, or even if it’s something that seems impossible, we speak with the Counseling Office and act on what we can do. SAMH tends to get a lot of things done because of our dedication as a group and because we genuinely want to be able to find the best way to help students.”

SAMH has indeed accomplished many things, including sexual assault awareness posters, positive mental health posters in dorms, mental health and eating disorder videos on Instagram, student athlete day including a faculty and student panel discussing burn out, guest speakers Nathan Harmon and Maris Degener, and much more. 

Ju emphasized the fact that such an influential group was only founded less than a year ago. “This started last summer. I feel like people forget that and say, ‘Oh yeah, SAMH has been here for a few years,’ but we started this last summer on top of COVID-19 and all the stuff going around the world,” Ju said.