Isabelle Schmidt

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University graduate students, working on a master’s degree in counseling, hosted an event Nov. 27 that focused on mental health called “Thriving not Surviving.”

Dr. Marinn Pierce, program director of the counseling and development program, created the event to share mental health information with Winthrop students while giving graduate students experience presenting research.

“I did something similar in my master’s program and so I always thought it was a great idea, because what graduate students don’t realize is that they are going to be in roles that they are going to be planning conferences, where they are going to be presenting or doing those kinds of things,” said Pierce

The graduate students themselves planned the event and came up with the theme, which they said was catchy, empowering and meaningful.

“‘Thriving not Surviving,’ signifying that everyone in our state, nation and world should have the right and opportunity to live their best and most fulfilled lives,” said Timothy Hughes, one of the presenters.

“The conference goal was to bring awareness to the subject of mental health, to provide resources and tools clinical professionals can utilize and to highlight the social responsibility we have as a global community to support the individuals around us that have these psychological challenges,” said Hughes.

The event featured 11 graduate students presenting research on various mental health related topics, including anxiety, eating disorders, sex education, therapy and suicide.

“The format of the event is very informal. It’s mostly set up like a professional poster session at a conference, which is different information being presented,” said Pierce.

“All the students will have their posters up and handouts available; you just mingle and talk with the presenters. It is really more of dialogue than a formal stand up presentation.”

Hannah Pringle, a senior majoring in social work, said she enjoyed the informal format of the event.

“I thought the event was fascinating. I loved that there were so many diverse things that were available to learn about and so many people to talk to and ask questions. All of the presenters were informed and personable and excited to tell me about what they have researched,” said Pringle.

This is the second year Pierce has led a similar presentation and outreach event for her graduate students. However, this year the event was classified as a cultural event for Winthrop students, which drew a bigger crowd.

“Students who are wanting cultural event credit will have a bingo card they have to complete when they go through so…we can document that they came through,” said Pierce.

The bingo cards were intended to keep the event interactive and included questions such as “what percent of adolescents suffer from anxiety?”

Visitors then needed to hunt down the answers, which encouraged them to engage with the presenters.

Winthrop sophomore Katsya Engalichev said the event was very informative and she found the presentation on suicide and prevention particularly interesting.

“I learned about the increase in suicide death in certain states and how over the past 17 or so years that suicide risk has increased greatly in South Carolina and in my home state, New Hampshire,” said Engalichev.