People and Community University

Student symposium focuses on mental health as ‘mental wealth’

On Saturday, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will host the annual Students of Color Symposium, featuring workshops about mental health and facilitated conversations, as well as a keynote address from New York Times bestselling author and certified breathwork coach, Alex Elle.
From left; Alexis Owens, Cassandra Michel, and Zoe Major, members of the Students of Color Symposium planning committee.

From left; Alexis Owens, Cassandra Michel, and Zoe Major, members of the Students of Color Symposium planning committee. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Cassandra Michel recalls the first Students of Color Symposium (SOCS) she attended. As a newly enrolled student, she left the daylong event with a feeling of immense fulfillment and purpose.

“I realized then that [the Students of Color Symposium] is a really transformative experience,” said Michel, a senior studying psychology and community and applied psychological studies at the University of Miami.

This year’s SOCS is being held at Lakeside Village from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The event will consist of workshops, facilitated conversations, and networking opportunities aimed at destigmatizing mental health and promoting emotional and physical well-being. SOCS provides an annual opportunity for students to engage in dialogues on topics that affect their educational, personal, and professional growth. 

The symposium’s theme, “I Choose Me: Mental Health is Mental Wealth,” will focus on providing students with the support and tools necessary to navigate their college experience while focusing on maintaining their mental wellness.

“In this post-pandemic world where people are experiencing social anxiety and other mental health stressors, especially college-aged students, the topic of mental health was really important for us to highlight,” said Michel, who serves as the executive chair of SOCS and works alongside a dedicated committee of her peers to bring the program to life. 

The conference opens with a panel discussion bringing together practitioners to discuss areas of their work with mental health and how it intersects with racial and ethnic identities. 

Attendees will hear from University experts Eric Goldstein, sports psychologist for University of Miami Athletics, and Jacqueline Yi, doctoral intern at the Counseling Center. Britney Clarke, alumna and manager, Primo Relations, Bacardi, and Dr. Stephon Martin, a wellness specialist within the Jackson Health System also will join the panel discussion.

Following the panel, students and faculty and staff members will engage in interactive breakout sessions that will teach them about herbal sensory stimulation techniques to manage feelings of anxiety and stress, and how to create meaningful connections, locate resources, and foster healthy communities on campus. 

The day continues with a keynote address by Alex Elle, a New York Times bestselling author, certified breathwork coach, and restorative writing teacher. Elle, best known for her book “How We Heal: Uncover Your Power and Set Yourself Free,” focuses on ways to build community and healing practices through the use of literature and language. She will be joined in discussion by Michel, the executive chair of SOCS, and Merissa Yancey, senior program coordinator at the School of Law.  

The symposium concludes with a Mental Health Resource Expo aimed at connecting students to on- and off-campus, low-cost, or free mental health resources.  

“Being that mental health is an issue impacting our community at large, it takes a community to work together to elevate our existing resources on campus to support our student's overall mental health and well-being,” said Kennedy Robinson, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA). 

Michel noted that this year’s symposium was made possible by the many campus partners who will be in attendance on Saturday to connect and support students. 

“It’s not just me, it’s a whole committee of students that are so dedicated and so passionate about what we do to support one another,” she said. “It’s going to be great.” 

The Students of Color Symposium is open to all students at the University. Register to attend using the code “SOCS2023.” Visit the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs for more information.