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OUS psychology club hosts 4th annual Mental Health Expo

There is nothing wrong with seeking help for mental health issues ­— a message the ACTION Ohio University Southern Psychology Club attempts to deliver to the Ironton community as often as possible.

The club held its fourth annual Mental Health Expo Tuesday afternoon at the OUS Mains Rotunda in Ironton. The club invited the community to come out and interact with representatives from various mental health agencies throughout the Tri-State.

Rachel Lee Banfield, ACTION vice president, said the expo is one of the club’s main events of the year and is designed to give community members the opportunity to see the services available to them.

“Our Mental Health Expo provides a chance for different organizations throughout the community to showcase their services and make the community aware they are here,” Banfield said. “This is good because it gives people the chance to find the information they need without having to reach out for it.”

The stigma often associated with mental health issues often causes those who may need help to shy away from seeking it, Banfield said. She said the expo can be a good first step for those who want help to receive it.

Hannah Wilkes, ACTION president, agreed with Banfield on the importance of getting the word out to the community on the services available to them. She said a lot of work goes into making an event like the Mental Health Expo happen, but if just one person is helped the work is worth it.

“All of us here are just trying to help the community,” Wilkes said. “This is our fourth year having this event and a lot of the agencies have been here before. We also had multiple speakers this year to help get the word out on the different services available.”

Representatives from Shawnee Mental Health, Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Hope’s Place spoke at the expo about issues affecting the community and services offered.

Beth Jennings, business development director for River Park Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., was in attendance for her second year. She said what the students of ACTION are doing for the community by hosting the expo is a good thing, one she thinks is very important.

“We are always looking to try and get information out to the public as well as get information out to the next generation of behavioral and mental health providers,” Jennings said. “Universities are great places to get the information out.”

The Mental Health Expo is also a great way for providers to get together and share information and exchange ideas, Jennings said.

While there was a good turnout, Wilkes said ACTION is considering moving the expo to the fall next school year. The expo was during the week before finals this year and Wilkes said the club hopes moving the event to earlier in the year would bring out more students.