News - 08/16/2013

MiraCosta College Students Raise Awareness of Mental Illness

MiraCosta College has initiated a new student-led program to build awareness of mental health issues and direct those affected by it to available resources on and off campus.

A $112,000 grant funded the training of 12 students taking part in MiraCosta College’s Peer Education Program. The students will engage in 40-minute, interactive presentations beginning this fall semester at targeted classrooms in the Child Development, Health, Psychology, and Sociology departments, said Marge Reyzer, MiraCosta College’s Director of Health Services. Peer counselors also will be at College Hours that are held weekly, and can be scheduled to discuss depression-related issues with other classes at the instructor’s request.

Jason Lindemann is one of the peer counselors who underwent training this summer.

“I was interested in getting involved with the peer education program because I’m interested in helping raise awareness about mental health issues,” he said. “I personally know a lot of people with mental health issues and I’ve seen how hesitant they are to get help because of the way their issues are viewed by society.”

A former Marine who saw many of his fellow Marines avoid the issue of mental health, Lindemann added: “What I hope will come out of this program is a better understanding on campus about mental health and from that hopefully the students who are dealing with mental health issues will start to feel that it is OK for them to not be OK and for them to feel comfortable getting the help they need, as well as know what resources are available to them either through the school or local community.”

Reyzer said the program will be life saving.

“Suicide is increasing so much in San Diego, and depression can be an issue on our campus,” she said. “We want to do what we can to try to reach people early on, to guide them on how to handle a person’s depression so they don’t get suicidal.”

MiraCosta College was one of a couple dozen in the state securing a grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. The students trained with mental health counselors Dr. Ghada Osman and Bruce McDavid.

Money from the grant also paid for computer software associated with the program. Training, Reyzer said, will be ongoing.

Focusing on a program led by fellow students was important, Reyzer said, “because research has shown that peer programs can be very successful.”

Anyone interested in the effort or in setting up a presentation from a peer educator should contact Reyzer at or 760.795.6675.

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