By: Robbie Chulick | Article from 2022 Summer CLT Magazine

Assistant Dean of Students, University of Virginia’s College at Wise,

In late 2020, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Campus Mental Health was the Number One Worry of all college presidents, outside of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only should campus mental health be a concern for college and university presidents, but it should also be something that Student Affairs and Campus Activities professionals should be aware and cognizant of as well.

To support student leaders on campus, Ethan Fisher, a keynote speaker and mental health advocate, spoke to a variety of student leaders during his visit to The University of Virginia College at Wise (UVA Wise), in Wise, VA, and Union College, in Barbourville, KY to kick off the Spring Semester in January 2022.    Both institutions realized the importance of mental health on their respective college campuses and booked Ethan Fisher at the Fall 2021 Orlando Student Programming Conference.

At UVA Wise, Ethan facilitated two different workshops, one for Resident Assistants (RA’s) and one for The Division II Spring Sport Athletes. In the session with 25 RA’s, he provided his Student Leaders a Mental Health Workshop. Nia Rogers, a resident assistant at UVA Wise, said “Ethan has made me more aware that my mental health plays a bigger impact in my day to day life than I realize. I’ve learned that talking to a professional about my mental state is the first step to seeking the help I need.”

After meeting with the RA’s, he spent the afternoon with a variety of student athletes from Women’s Basketball, Men’s Basketball, and lacrosse teams. He discussed the 5 Keys to Student-Athlete success and instantly connected with those student athletes. As an advisor, it was amazing to see Ethan connect with students and the number of students that stayed after each one of his presentations to continue the conversation and to exchange further contact information.

Mental Health is one of the primary focus areas right now in student affairs. We’ve added an additional full-time mental health counselor in our Counseling Office for the 22-23 academic year, but continued outreach and programming that Ethan Fisher provides to discuss mental health and wellbeing is just as important.

Due to the proximity of UVA Wise and Union College, we were able to block book Ethan Fisher to speak at Union College the night before. Emily Couch, a first-time APCA advisor attendee, said, “Block Booking made bringing Ethan Fisher to our campus more affordable and easier to coordinate. Our students were engaged and enjoyed Ethan’s presentation. Block Booking is something I hope to incorporate with future events.”

At Union, they had over 150 students attend Ethan Fisher’s event since it was open to the entire campus community. His presentation there discussed his struggles of being a student athlete and the addictions he faced. He also discussed how one decision can change not only the outcome of your life but also the outcome of so many people around them.

Dalton Crook, a junior at Union College, attended Ethan’s presentation in January. He said every student athlete and college student should attend one of Ethan’s presentations. He didn’t sugar coat his struggles, and I think everyone listening could relate to him on some level.

UVA Wise looks forward to bringing Ethan Fisher back to campus in early August to expand upon the work he did with Resident Assistants in January, and we will continue to partner with athletics for the Fall Sport Student Athletes to hear his message regarding the keys to student success.