LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- When many of us think of mental health support, we think of hospitals and psychologists, but we may not think of normal folks on the street.
That is unless you're at New Mexico State University.
At the Las Cruces campus, an effort is underway to train students from different fields how to help their fellow students through tough times. The program's officially known as "No Mind Suffering Unheard," and is filled with volunteers from the university.
University officials with the university say they've seen a spike in mental health concerns in students for several years.
These students attend specific trainings to learn how to handle discussions about mental states, mental health first aid, suicidal discussions, public health talks and gain a better understanding of the mind. This program creates mental health ambassadors, who work on a peer-to-peer level with students on campus. It began with a $50,000 grant from the state's Higher Education Department.
Over 100 students volunteered for the program, officials say. Only about half were approved for the final operation. One public health professor involved with the program, Jagdish Khubchandani, tells ABC-7 the program is designed to teach students from all backgrounds about mental health. Those involved come from a wide range of majors and minors.
These ambassadors are involved with activities promoting mental health awareness across campus, and are given guidance on effectively communicating with someone in crisis. To learn these skills, the students go to a three-hour class every week. Program participants say a main goal is to remove stigma about mental issues, and to provide a place to start seeking care.
It has a combination of support from NMSU's College of Health, Education and Social Transformation’s Department of Public Health Sciences, the Aggie Health and Wellness Center, the Department of Student Life and the Vice Chancellor’s Office.
The program is one of several NMSU initiatives for mental health resources.
Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.