UW-Eau Claire nursing project educates the community on mental health and youth

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Although many UW-Eau Claire students wrapped up the semester and left campus, some nursing students are leaving something behind. First News at Nine’s Jessica Mendoza shares how a class project has branched out, off-campus.

In a senior nursing course at the university, students were instructed to identify a need in the community.

“We did a lot of research for this project including windshield surveys driving around to see what kind of needs we could identify as well as doing research about Eau Claire County itself,” said nursing student Alyssa Mammel.

Mammel and Hayley Kalal say through the data the choice became clear which topic they would focus on.

“One of the things we decided needed addressing was the mental health specifically in youth population and school age adolescents,” Mammel said.

The next step was to figure out how to reach that group.

“We were all sitting at home on Zoom talking to each other trying to figure out what to do. I had note cards next to me so I started writing a recipe on mental health concerns and how to get through them,” Kalal said.

By collaborating with the Eau Claire City County Health Department, five mental health ‘recipe cards’ were created. Focusing on depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicide and grief due to missed milestones during COVID-19.

“So far these have been distributed with the Eau Claire County Health Department that have also been distributed through the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health and at the University here through the counseling services,” Mammel said.

“From a clinical, you know a required course, and a required project that we get a grade for, we are able to impact the lives of kids and teens,” said Kalal.

Assistant Professor of Nursing, Dr. Pamela Guthman says what these students have pulled off, shows another important side of nursing.

“Oftentimes people think of nurses in the acute setting and institutional settings and that is true but as the pandemic has shown public health is really trying to communicate with communities and populations in need,” Guthman said.

As the cards circulate around the state, Guthman hopes more attention is brought to the significance of these issues.

The mental health recipe cards define topics like anxiety and panic attacks and give tips on how to help yourself or a friend in those situations. The cards are meant to be passed on to kids under 17.

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