Break the cycle

A class at Texas A&M University-Commerce has created a free four-week program designed to help “break the cycle” and inform people of mental health issues in the community and how to properly handle to topic.

The “program implementation and evaluation of health promotion” class, or HHP 420, at A&M-Commerce is hosting “Break the Cycle,” a student-led series that will take place every Wednesday for the next four weeks. This program is the result of close to a year of work of students in the Health and Human Performance Department at the university.

In the spring 2019 semester, students from a class led by Dr. Elizabeth Wachira, assistant professor at A&M-Commerce, conducted a health-needs assessment for the community to determine what the greatest need is. From their research, they determined that mental health was one of the most pressing issues in the area.

Now, the class has created a program to address these issues head on. Wachira says that one of the most important aspects of care for mental health is education.

“Its important for students, staff and faculty to know what to do,” Wachira says. “Be an informed bystander. If you see someone struggling, know what you can do to help.”

Jesus Medrano Palacios, a student in the course, says that the class came up with “Break the Cycle” as their program to combat the issues surrounding mental health. The program entails events every Wednesday night starting Oct. 23 and ending Nov. 13 at the university’s Sam Rayburn Student Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Each week will feature a different theme. Week one is “One-on-one: What is mental health?” Week two is “What resources are available?” Week three is “How to work on your own emotional well-being and self-care.” Week four is “What can we do for others?”

Medrano Palacios says that the biggest goal of the program is to end the stigmas surrounding mental health and encourage open discussion.

“We want to create a culture where it is okay to open up about your mental well-being,” Medrano Palacios said. “We want to fight the stigmas and the notion that mental health is taboo and not to be discussed.”

The program is free to attend, but participants must pre-register as there is a limited number of spaces available. Registration is available online at

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