Winter Preparedness Drive

The holidays are quickly approaching and during this time of thanks the Public Health Student Association have decided to have a winter preparedness drive for the Memphis Union Mission. We will collect blankets, socks, winter caps, gloves and Chap Stick. Please bring items to the Foundations class (Scates Hall, Room 204) on November 30th and December 7th. All donations will be donated after finals to the Memphis Union Mission.  If you are unable to make these dates, please let Executive Social Action Chair Obrenka Thompson know. Here email is as follows:


Service on Saturday


Students Advocating Service presents:

Service on Saturday – November 21, 2015

Service on Saturday is a program designed to give University of Memphis students, faculty, and staff opportunities to volunteer in the community without a long-term commitment. The program takes place once a month starting at 8:30am with free breakfast. Projects last anywhere from 2.5 – 3.5 hours. Free lunch is provided afterwards.

Date: 11/21/2015 (Sat.)

Time: 8:30am CST

Location: UC Memphis Room (340)

Sign up here.

Public Health Community Scholarships – Applications Due

The School of Public Health is now accepting applications for Public Health Community Scholarships, available to MPH students who are currently in their first year of study. These scholarships are made possible by generous funding from an anonymous donor. We anticipate that funds will be available for a cohort beginning in June 2016.

Up to five first-year MPH students will be named Public Health Community Scholars.  Awardees will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 during their 3-month summer MPH Practicum and the following academic year that completes the student’s graduate study. Additionally, a tuition waiver will be provided for the second year of MPH coursework. In return, students will work 20 hours per week during their 3-month summer practicum at a community location and will continue working 20 hours/week at that location during the following academic year. Preference is given to students with a history of contribution to health improvement in the Memphis metropolitan area, have high academic qualifications, and are in need of financial assistance. Advisor recommendation is required.

Please see the attached application and advisor recommendation forms

Public Health Comm Scholar Application

Public Health Comm Scholar Advisor Recommendation

The deadline for applications: December 20th (midnight)

Please submit your application to the SPH Assistant Dean via email at Students are responsible for asking their advisor to submit a recommendation.  The advisor recommendation is to be sent directly to Completed applications (including application form, essay, and advisor recommendation) must be received by December 20th at midnight. The Scholarship Committee will announce awardees by January 31st.

“Rockin’ the Rivers” River Clean-up with Memphis River Warriors

Rockin’ the Rivers

Clean up the Memphis Rivers with the Memphis River WarriorsRockin_The_Rivers_flyer

This month, the Public Health Student Association has pledged to participate in the 1st annual “Rockin’ the Rivers” River Cleanup. On October 24th the Memphis River Warriors, the Wolf River Conservancy, Memphis City Beautiful, and Clean Memphis will come together to host possibly the biggest and baddest river cleanup in the MidSouth. This event will focus on cleaning up the city’s waterways in an effort to better our city and environment. The cleanups will begin at 10am at Nonconnah Creek, McKellar Lake, and the Wolf River, with an after party held at Wiseacre Brewery.

Registration can be found at

Memphis River Warriors

Learn about the Memphis River Warriors

MRWI was lucky enough to be a founding member of this group during my undergraduate career, when the Memphis River Warriors consisted of 30 of our closest friends and whoever else we could strong-arm into giving us their Saturday morning. We considered our technique to be more “guerilla warfare” and less “___ attack plan”. There was no “Memphis River Warriors” flag to lead us to victory yet. We were a rag tag group of students fed up with a problem and with just enough gumption to actually do something about it. We had an advisor that believed in us and partner organizations that wanted to fund our dreams. Our group cared little about established methods of practices and the “best” techniques of gaining community support. Instead, we lived and breathed river cleanups.  We blasted everyone on social media and in real life with the sad problem we had all been ignoring – our river was a wreck. In the first 2 years, our volunteers picked up over 50,000 lbs. of trash from the Mississippi River. 100,000 lbs. came and went and still we weren’t finished. As of Fall 2015, the Memphis River Warriors have held over 25 cleanups, with 2800 volunteers and 115,000 lbs. of trash collected.


My time with the Memphis River Warriors was ultimately what convinced me to pursue my MPH. I loved the feeling of uniting people over a common good and actually making a difference in the world.  I strengthened my leadership skills, learned how to apply for grants, and saw just what a little hard work can accomplish. I was blown away by the goodness of people, by the possibility that together we might actually be able to fix this after all.

The Warriors have spent their weekends fighting trash for the last 4 years, and they are nowhere near slowing down. This event looks to be the biggest in the Warrior’s illustrious career, garnering support from other local organizations such as Clean Memphis, Memphis City Beautiful, and the Wolf River Conservancy.

Author: Cheyenne Medlock, MPH Student & Co-Founder of Memphis River Warriors

Stop the Stigma of Mental Illness

The World Health Organization states there is no health without mental health.  Mental health is more than the absence of psychological disorders, but “…a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.   However, not everyone can easily achieve this state of health.

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How many times have you heard jokes made about mental illness?  Have you made some of them yourself?  Examples would be referring to someone as schizo’ or bipolar.  Another example would be claiming OCD, because you really like your space organized.  While these comments may seem harmless, they can actually play into a larger problem of stigmatizing and trivializing of a very serious health problem in the United States.


In 2013 there were an estimated 43.8 million adults above the age of 18 with mental illness in the US (National Institute of Mental Health).  This is approximately 1 in 5 of all adults, which is also mirrored in children ages 13-18.  As you can see in the fact sheets below, mental illness is a leading cause of suicide and the 10th leading cause of death in the US.  Mental illness is a severe issue and the people it afflicts deserve our attention and compassion (National Alliance on Mental Illness).


Infograph_multicultural_mhfacts (1)

According to the CDC, 78% of people with mental health symptoms and 89% of people without symptoms agreed that treatment can help individuals with mental illness have normal lives.  Despite this belief, only 25% of people with mental health illnesses felt as if other people were caring or sympathetic.  If people who have mental illness can be treated, why is there such a lack of support on their behalf?


The current problem is that mental illness is still misunderstood by our society.  This lack of understanding can lead to the discrimination of people with mental illnesses.  As stated by the WHO, “A climate that respects and protects basic civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights is fundamental to mental health promotion”.  The denial of these rights makes it very difficult for individuals to access and maintain their mental health. 

The negative stigma surrounding mental illness has negative effects on the individuals suffering from it, including:

  • Lack of needed understanding or support by people
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing
  • Bullying, physical violence or harassment
  • Poor health insurance for mental illness treatment
  • The belief they will never be able to succeed at certain challenges or improve their situation
  • Reluctance to seek help or treatment


It is about time to rethink how we view this health problem in our country.  Instead of blaming the victim, support and understanding are needed.  Individuals with mental illness need to not feel so responsible for their disease, or too afraid of stigma associated with their disease, that they do not seek help.


For those of you who may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental illness while at University of Memphis, please do not despair.  There is support right here on campus you can easily access:

First, there is the Relaxation Zone

The simple purpose of the Relaxation Zone is to keep yourself calm and manage your stress, which can be a trigger for mental illness.  It is located in the Counseling Center at Wilder Tower, room 211, and is open for walk-ins from 9am-4pm.  The services are free to registered UofM students:

  • Massage chairs
  • Biofeedback equipment for stress management
  • Wellness breaks for self-care skills
  • Guided meditation

Counseling is also available for free to students registered for at least 6 credit hours (  Students can walk in Monday through Friday between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.  They offer the following confidential services:

  • Individual Counseling
  • Couples and Family Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Relaxation Counseling
  • Biofeedback Resources
  • Group Opportunities
  • Urgent/Crisis Services
  • Psychiatric Evaluation and Medication Management (uninsured students only)
  • ADHD Support (Testing is available for a fee)
  • Substance Abuse Screenings and Support
  • Individual & Small Group “Wellness Breaks”
  • Campus Outreach and Education Programs

If you are unsure if you require services, here are some self-evaluations to help you decide what you need to do.  Keep in mind these do not substitute true evaluations by trained professionals, but they do help you to orient yourself:

Stress test

Screening for anxiety and mood disorders

Multiple screening tests

Let us all remember, people are not their illness.  They only suffer from it.  By choosing to be open minded about those who suffer from mental illness, we also choose to reduce stigma, victim blaming, shaming, and creating isolation from our needed support.


Author: Kendra Vaughn