5 Ways to Normalize Conversations about Mental Health

Presented by Tali Burger, MA, Prevention Education Graduate Assistant, Office of Case Management

Brought to you by You@CUDenver

Tali has been working as a graduate assistant with the Office of Case Management since December 2020. Tali works as a case manager and prevention educator planning events for students on campus including the suicide prevention march and Keep Talking. Tali is new to the state of Colorado and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in School Psychology.


World Mental Health Day is October 10th. In addition, National Depression Screening Day is October 7, 2021. These awareness days are highlighted to de-stigmatize and normalize conversations about mental health and encourage help-seeking behavior. While these world and national initiatives are important, members of the CU Denver community can also make an impact in this effort, right here on the Auraria campus by preparing for conversations with colleagues, students, friends, and loved ones. 

When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, you might notice a change in the person’s behavior, or they may reach out to you as a friend or peer. This can sometimes feel uncomfortable, and it is okay if you don’t know what to do. What is important is that you feel like you have the tools to help. The more we talk about mental health, the more we normalize seeking help.  Use the 5 tips below to become more comfortable with engaging in conversations about mental health. 

  1. Approach. If you notice that someone’s behavior seems different than usual, or if someone is expressing distress, ask them if they are ok. You might point out the behaviors you have noticed or ask them if they are feeling stressed.

  2. Listen. When someone is sharing their concerns with you, they want to be heard and understood. Listen to what they have to say so you know how to be direct about your concerns. Paraphrase or reword what the person said to show that you understand.

  3. Remain calm. Sometimes you may be responding to a person who is upset. If someone is raising their voice, it is only natural to raise yours to be heard. Practice speaking in a calmer voice so that you can encourage de-escalation, and help the affected person self-regulate to a calmer state. 

  4. Connect to Resources. There is a multitude of resources on and off-campus that are available. Share resources like the Student Counseling Center.  Normalize utilizing supports and help-seeking behaviors. If you are concerned about yourself or another CU Denver peer, reach out for support. Submit a CARE Report, work together to access resources, and call 9-1-1 when necessary.

  5. Take Action. Become more educated in mental health by registering and attending free Mental Health First Aid Training. These trainings help students, staff, and faculty learn the skills to assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. The more you know, the easier it is to talk about mental health. The more people talk about mental health, the more it is de-stigmatized and normalized. 

  6. Below is a list of resources on and off-campus to consider using for yourself or a peer.

    Student and Community Counseling Services offer free, confidential individual, couples, and family counseling services and workshops to students. Call 303-315-7270 or visit their website. For urgent mental health support, call 303-315-7270 to connect with a crisis counselor. Crisis counselor support is available Monday – Thursday, from 10 AM - 4 PM & Friday from 11 AM - 2 PM. 

    Office of Case Management has available case managers to discuss resources on campus, and explore additional supports that students may need. Visit our website to learn more or join our virtual front desk Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 12 PM, 1 PM – 3 PM.  

    Active Minds is a student-led organization dedicated to building community through education, research, and advocacy, through mental health de-stigmatization, resources, and action. Visit their website to learn more. 

    Student Life & Campus Community connects students to one of 130+ campus clubs and organizations, meet new people, and develop leadership skills through weekly leadership workshops and certificate programs. Visit their website to learn more.

    Wellness Coaching with CU Denver Wellness & Recreation Services provides one-on-one meetings with a certified health coach in virtual or in-person sessions to set goals and make a plan to improve your own wellness. All CU Denver students have access to 1 free Wellness Coaching session. 

    Tri-institutional resources include:
    Auraria Recovery Community (ARC), Center for Identity and Inclusion, Health Center at Auraria (crisis walk-in hours are Mondays – Thursdays, 8 AM – 5 PM, and Fridays, 8 AM – 3 PM), LGBTQ Resource Center, and The Phoenix Center at Auraria (PCA)

    Community resources include: 
    Colorado Crisis Services offers 24/7 urgent support and mental health resources near you. Call 1-844-493-8255, text “TALK” to 38255, or visit their website for walk-in information.

    Mental Health Center of Denver works with individuals to connect with counseling resources. Call 303-504-7900 to speak to a staff person and be connected to resources. 


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