Lee College hosts Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Week

Free events & activities include improv show, resource fair with local health organizations

BAYTOWN, TX – Statistics show that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, yet many don’t know about mental health and are unable to recognize the signs of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other mental illnesses.

The first-ever Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Week at Lee College is an effort to change that through events and activities that explore the symptoms, risk factors and treatments for mental illnesses; break down stigmas and misconceptions; and connect participants to available and affordable local resources. All events are free and open to the public.

“We want people to talk about mental illness as freely as they would talk about a broken bone or another physical health concern,” said Anajery Valadez, an academic advisor in the Lee College Counseling Center and co-organizer for the week.

“As children we are taught to take care of ourselves physically — wear a helmet if you ride a bike, brush your teeth, put a band aid on a cut — but we were not educated on how to heal our emotional wounds or how to care for ourselves psychologically,” she said. “We can only change that by reducing the stigma and educating the community about mental illness.”

Highlights of Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Week include:

Tuesday, Oct. 3

Mental Health and Suicide Improv Show and Discussion – 6 p.m., Student Center

Houston improv teams will use laughter and humor to help break down the barriers that stop people from talking about mental health and suicide. A discussion will follow the show. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, Oct. 4

Mental Health and Suicide Resource Fair – 10 a.m.-noon, Rebel Roost Patio & Gazebo

Several local organizations that advocate for mental health and those living with a mental illness will be part of the fair, which will highlight low-cost mental health services available in the community. Student clubs and organizations will also be on hand to provide information about on-campus resources and ways to stay mentally and physically healthy.

Training/Workshop: Ask About Suicide to Save a Life – 11 a.m., Bayer Conference Center

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD will provide an overview of suicide and suicidal behavior, including risk and protective factors. Participants will be trained to gather more information about a person at risk of suicide and take action. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

Presentation: In Our Own Voice – 12:30 p.m., Bayer Conference Center

Presenters from the National Alliance of Mental Illness Houston will give personal accounts of living with mental illness — from their initial diagnosis and darkest days, to receiving treatment and developing coping skills and future goals — and share what long-term recovery looks like. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

Presentation: Depression and Bipolar Disorders – 2 p.m., Bayer Conference Center

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Houston will talk about depression and bipolar disorders, confronting social stigma and advocating for the rights of people living with mental disorders. Presenters will also share information about free and local support groups that help individuals, family members and friends understand these difficult yet treatable mental disorders. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

Thursday, Oct. 5

It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health Documentary and Discussion – 1 p.m., Bayer Conference Center

This documentary encourages students to be mindful of the state of their mental health, recognize when they are struggling and take steps to seek health. A group discussion about the film will be held after the screening. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

Workshop: Emotional Hygiene and the College Student – 6 p.m., Bayer Conference Center

In this interactive workshop, participants will discuss ways to cope with daily stressors that can affect mental health and the importance of emotional self-care. Light refreshments will be served.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Improv groups perform at R.E.A.L. Comedy Night

Can't Tell Us Nothing improv comedy troupe
Can’t Tell Us Nothing improv comedy troupe

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will kick off Black History Month with an improv comedy show at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) featuring two groups known for entertaining audiences with clever satire and interesting characters in unexpected situations.

The R.E.A.L. Comedy Night will start at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Black Box Theater inside the PAC. Tickets are $5 and proceeds will benefit the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) student organization, which works to educate, empower, enhance and create positive change for black male students on campus.

“Improv is a way to be creative and a way to explore your voice, discovering who you are as a performer and person,” said Jessica Falla, a college counselor who also advises the R.E.A.L. organization. “We thought it would be great to showcase these wonderful black performers and celebrate their talent.”

A Spike Lee Joint improv comedy Troupe
A Spike Lee Joint improv comedy Troupe

Falla is one-half of A Spike Lee Joint, the first group that will perform at Comedy Night. The duo explores taboo subjects such as racism, sexism and ageism – often resulting in scenes marked by satirical, darker humor. They draw their themes from anonymous letters sent by people willing to share their experiences as members of marginalized groups.

The second troupe to take the stage will be Can’t Tell Us Nothing, four black performers whose improv is inspired by rapper Kanye West. The group introduces strong and whimsical characters in their fast-paced scenes, then takes those characters down rabbit holes and unpredictable pathways.

The R.E.A.L. Comedy Night at Lee College may contain language and material that may not be suitable for all audiences. Performers will participate in a live question-and-answer session after the show about why they do improv comedy and the choices they make on stage. For advance tickets or more information, contact Falla at 281.425.6421 or jfalla@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.