Aggie Health and Wellness Center offers student training in mental health

“Today, mental health issues are a leading cause of disability worldwide. In young adults, suicides and injury are a leading cause of death,” Khubchandani said.

Leighanne Muñoz

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David Castaeda

A pharmacy is located inside the Aggie Health And Wellness Center for help with mental health. The Aggie Health and Wellness Center is located at 3080 Breland Dr. by Zuhl Library. Sep. 27, 2022.

This article contains descriptions of mental health. If needed, the Aggie Health and Wellness Center provides mental health resources for students by visiting or calling 575-646-1512. 

New Mexico State University’s Aggie Health and Wellness Center is providing a new experience for students to bring more advocacy regarding mental health. The Peer Mental Health Advocate Program is a group of students that are trained in mental health first aid, suicide prevention and public health campaigning according to the Professor of Public Health, Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani. The program is looking for students who may be interested in helping push for a better and safer environment for those who may be struggling with their mental health on campus.  

“There are direct benefits to students [e.g., $250 stipend per semester, certificates of training, instructional materials, and custom t-shirts and swag],” Khubchandani said. “Beyond these benefits, we truly hope that the students we train will be able to serve as campus mental health promotion advocates, be able to deal with mental health crisis situations, and learn about the field of mental health research and public awareness campaigns.”  

Students who participate in being advocates will also be able to use the program as a reference in the future. “The students will also be able to record these activities for their resume providing them with employment related skills,Khubchandani said.  

Students will be trained in mental health issues and suicide prevention during the Fall semester of 2022 and will begin their work in Spring of 2023. Once trained, the students will be able to have table events, panel discussions and many other activities.  

Khubchandani explains the importance of the advocates and why NMSU’s campus needs students who understand their peers on a more professional level. “Today, mental health issues are a leading cause of disability worldwide. In young adults, suicides and injury are a leading cause of death. Given these facts, we must continue our efforts to educate the society on mental health issues and create a culture of mental health promotion,he said.  

Jackie Vallejo, a sophomore animal science major, talks about how schoolwork can affect her mental health. “My school life wouldn’t help my mental health, having to figure out myself and do homework before 11:59 p.m. would only add more stress and depression,” Vallejo said.  

Students will be able to reach out to these volunteers and get guidance on how to work through mental health issues they may be going through. Amanda Blair, the Assistant Director of the Aggie Health and Wellness Center, says that having students talk to others their own age is helpful. “There is strong evidence linked to the effectiveness of peer-to-peer education and support systems. They often can relate to one another, share similar situations, and learn through a social connection in the process of learning,” Blair said. “Through the use of this group, we will focus heavily on resources and teaching how to navigate difficult conversations and reducing stigma.” 

Vallejo states that she would be open to learning from others her age. “I would appreciate the extra advice I can get because I’m still struggling with stress and anxiety, mostly,” Vallejo said. 

This semester the students training to become advocates will meet every Friday all October from 2-5 p.m. in classroom Health and Social Services Building room 101. Student advocates will be tasked with assignments and group activities and will be provided with instruction and guest speakers to help guide them through the journey of becoming an advocate. Students wanting to participate must attend these meetings to be selected for the program.  

“The program was recently funded by the New Mexico Higher Education Department,” Khubchandani said. The program has only been funded for this school year but the health and wellness center hope to start the program up well enough to acquire more funding for the coming years. “We hope to continue to seek support and sponsor such trainings in the future,” he said. 

The Peer Mental Health Advocacy Program is open to all students who are looking to gain experience in a field such as this. The program is currently recruiting students who are passionate about helping their peers on campus with mental health resources.  

“Our program intends to do that and hope that we continue to destigmatize mental illness and debunk the myths surrounding mental health issues,” Khubchandani said.  

For any questions contact the Office of Health Promotion at [email protected] or Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani at [email protected]. To apply go to  

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