Support group promotes mental health awareness

Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

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Michelle Haney (above ) will host the next Neurodiversity Support Group meeting on Oct. 9 in the Commons. Photo by Ethan Barker | Campus Carrier

Many Berry students and faculty are aware of the multiple counseling and psychology options available on Berry’s campus, but few people know about the new Neurodiversity Support Group that was recently formed.

Michelle Haney, director of the Autism/Applied Behavior Analysis program, encouraged students with anxiety, ADHD/ADD, autism spectrum disorder, or any other mental disorder to join the group, diagnosed or not.

“Some people don’t need that one-on-one (counseling),” Haney said. “They just need some extra help, some extra support.”

The Neurodiversity Support Group offers a comfortable environment where any student or faculty member can relax, talk or just listen. There are many opportunities for the club, and if anyone has ideas or a desire to be a part of the group, they are encouraged to come to the next meeting on Oct. 9 in the basement of the library.

Haney began the group because of her interest in developmental disabilities. According to Haney, the overwhelming response was exciting and provided many ideas and opportunities to support others in the future.

“After the meeting, I was almost in tears because I was so excited and happy that we had the turnout that we had,” Anna Sharpe, co-founder of the group and director of the Academic Success Center, said.

“Dr. Haney seemed to really be enthusiastic about this and see an existing need. So, we said ‘okay let’s try this’,” Sharpe said.

In the past, other support groups have been unsuccessful Sharpe said; however, at the first meeting of the Neurodiversity Support Group over 20 students were present.

Despite being in the beginning stages, Sharpe is looking to the future of the group.

“From the beginning, Michelle (Haney) and I really saw ourselves in the backseat of this effort,” Sharpe said. “The students are leading that, and we want to continue to go in that direction to see students take on leadership roles within the group.”

Haney and Sharpe did want to make it clear that this support group is not a substitution for therapy, but a place to find support from others who are experiencing the same situations. Sharpe aspires to build a culture of inclusivity for even more Berry students.

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