UCSF students light the way for people impacted by mental health

UCSF students lit candles for those impacted by mental health as part of a California-wide event to honor, remember, and inspire all of those whose lives have been impacted by suicide or other struggles with mental health. Following the theme of the October 21st Mental Health Candle Light Event, which was “Hope by candlelight, creating a thousand lights,” each student wrote a message on a bag and lit an LED candle and left it for others to read to make a statement of caring, remembering, and supporting.

According to organizers, the purpose of this event was to reinforce solidarity with other University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses in a message of caring, remembrance and inspiration.  It also showed support for UCSF affiliates that are impacted by mental health.  “I think mental health is a serious medical condition that may be impossible to actually physically see in a person. It is different from physical pain for it may be worse than physical pain. I think it important for people suffering to realize that many people suffer from mental health issues, they are not alone, and someone will be there to help,” said Niki Arab, a second-year pharmacy student who helped organize the event.

The Mental Health Candle Light Event was started by a psychologist at San Jose State, and has since spread across the state, taking place at 18 other UCs and CSUs across the state this year. Last year, 22 different UC and CSU campuses participated in the event. At other UC campuses, this event even inspired some students to seek counseling and treatment after they realized their mental health struggles were not unique to them.

This year was the first year that UCSF also participated in the event. As members of a health-focused campus, mental health impacts many UCSF students, and it is also an important component of overall health. The candles lit the way for the launch of Student Health and Counseling mental health awareness week which showcased a variety of events aimed at stigma reduction related to taking care of mental health. Hopefully, the 20-30 candles shining in Saunders Court helped light the way for students at UCSF to recognize that they are not alone in having been impacted by mental health issues.