The independent student newspaper of Iowa State and Ames since 1890

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

“You are not alone”: Story County Mental Health Expo presents resources for students, community

Brielle Tuttle
Kai Roberts, a producer, artist and mental health speaker for Active Minds, talks about his mental health in college during his keynote speech “Escape: Overcoming Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts” at the Mental Health Expo at the Memorial Union on Sept. 25, 2023.

Story County residents heard a message from keynote speaker Kai Roberts and learned about local mental health resources at the Story County Mental Health Expo on Monday.

The event featured 35 organizations, with representatives to provide information on their services. It also included a keynote by Roberts titled, “Escape: Overcoming Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts.”

Roberts spoke about his battle with anxiety and intrusive thoughts during his time in college, noting that college wasn’t what he expected and how this affected his struggle. Roberts cited the symptoms he experienced and the strategies he used to cope.

“What happened is that I packed these emotions away,” Roberts said “I didn’t address it. I was emotional… no one understood what was going on.”

Roberts also cited his recovery path, which started with overcoming the mental health stigma and included working with a therapist.

The main message to attendees was “You Are Not Alone.” Roberts said he grew to understand that there is support for people experiencing mental health issues.

“Many of us experience various challenges in college,” Roberts said. “You may not know how common they were, but it’s important to know that you are not alone in your struggle. My sophomore year, I had the same challenges, the same problems, the same emotions. But, I couldn’t generate the solutions…I was trying to figure out everything on my own.”

According to Roberts, 39% of college students experience significant mental illness during their time on campus. Roberts said he was among this group during his time at college.

Community Support Advocates, (CSA), an organization that supports individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including anxiety, depression, brain injuries and substance abuse, were present at the expo.

“The amount of providers that come to this event is awesome,” Natalie Milbourn, a referral coordinator for CSA, said. “It’s great for Story County. It’s great for reaching out to students here at ISU. We look forward to participating in this every year.”

Chris Bertrand, a representative from Central Iowa Psychological Services representative, spoke about the importance of mental health awareness.

“Just get the word out about mental health,” Bertrand said. “The more we can get out, the more people we can help out.”

Andrea Hohmann, a therapist at CIPS, spoke at the exposition specifically about the importance of mental health awareness as it relates to the “loneliness epidemic” taking place.

“I think we’ve gotten in such a habit of relying on social media and communication that way that we’ve forgotten how to actually talk to people face to face,” Hohmann said. “Nothing can replace just going out and talking to someone face-to-face.”

The Mental Health Expo gave students an opportunity to meet with representatives face-to-face and learn more about available resources in the surrounding areas.

“I have a sociology project that requires me to write reports for lectures to get extra credit, so that’s my main reason, but I also thought it would be cool to check out,” Lauren Case, a sophomore studying event management said.

Isabelle Gonzalez, a freshman majoring in design, spoke about her interest in the event and learning more about mental health issues.

“Lauren asked me to come to this because I’m pretty big on mental health, so I thought it would be interesting to come and learn more,” Gonzalez said.

The event concluded with a panel discussion where attendees texted questions for the speakers, featuring representatives from the Ames Police Department, Alternative Response for Community Health (ARCH) and Roberts.

View Comments (2)
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of the Iowa State Daily. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, send our student journalists to conferences and off-set their cost of living so they can continue to do best-in-the-nation work at the Iowa State Daily.

More to Discover
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Comments (2)

All Iowa State Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    John Tack | Sep 26, 2023 at 9:40 am

    This is a well organized piece of work. The event is covered well, especially getting the motivations of the speaker, support groups and attendees Keep up the good work!

  • H

    Harold A Maio | Sep 26, 2023 at 6:50 am

    — overcoming mental health stigma ??

    You likely mean overcoming those taught and teaching it, those promulgating it, those agreeing to it, those participating in it..

    Harold A Maio