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Students Advocate Mental Health Awareness

July 30, 2015

As the topic of mental health on college campuses continues to garner attention from the media, student bodies and university administrations, Drexel’s Angela Mancao aims to take a proactive approach to awareness. Mancao, a junior Behavioral Health Counseling major, launched in February an on-campus chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness, educate the community and advocate for services to promote mental health.

“NAMI on Campus is comprised of passionate members who strive to change the way mental health is perceived and treated in our school and society,” said Mancao. Information sharing and advocacy are the primary mechanisms Drexel’s chapter uses to achieve its goals, and it has been pretty successful so far. The organization boasts 14 active members and a faculty advisor, Ron Comer, DSW, who is not so coincidentally the Chair and Professor of the Behavioral Health Counseling Department.

“Comer introduced me to NAMI when I came to Drexel as a freshman,” Mancao said. “It was his enthusiasm for the organization that inspired me to create a chapter on Drexel’s campus.” The process of establishing the chapter took Mancao about three years, and it was recognized as an official student organization by Drexel in January 2015 and by NAMI in February 2015.

The time that Mancao and her board members invested in initiating NAMI On-campus will certainly pay off given the recent push towards mental health awareness. Within the last six months, Drexel unveiled mental health screening kiosks which enable students to detect potential concerns. NPR published a story in All Tech Considered discussing Yik Yak, a location-based app that lets anonymous users share feelings and respond to one another. Francis O’Gorman wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that college campuses often serve as incubators for anxiety and worry. The issue has captured the attention of national audiences.

As for Drexel’s NAMI On-campus, they plan in the future to continue recruiting members and hosting events that promote the services available to those suffering from mental health illness and their allies.

The experience of creating an organization has also been beneficial, and one that Mancao believes is enhancing her Drexel experience. “I was able to unite people who shared the same passion and vision for mental health so that together we can make this organization achieve the goals we, and NAMI, have set. This experience has given me many opportunities to connect with and meet incredible, passionate students who want to make a change.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, please make an appointment for counseling at, or call 215.895.1415 for the University City campus or 215.762.7625 for the Center City Campus. The peer counseling helpline is available Sunday through Thursday between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. at 215.895.1523 and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).