The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Running for a — not so — spooky cause

Photo by Martin Nunez
Not sp spooky cause

In the early morning hours of Saturday Oct. 22, Texas A&M was a flurry of feet and elbows flying everywhere,laced up in bright, patterned running shoes, dressed in bold Halloween costumes for a good cause. While there are special sole gels and foams, the ultimate arch support was the people, Aggies and non-Aggies alike, coming together for a mission to raise awareness for mental health.
The 5k Spook-tacular fun run was a collaboration between the Brazos Valley Mental Health & Wellness initiative and the A&M Psychology club. As a practicing therapist involved in health and wellness efforts, Sasha Bradley is passionate about the initiative’s mission to serve underprivileged individuals experiencing trauma who may feel alone and lost.
“I’m very pleased that this is our first time doing this,” Bradley said. “I created this, and I didn’t really know what to expect, and so I’m really, really pleased with the turnout, and everyone seemed to have a good time.”
Bradley said the funds raised in this 5K run are part of an effort to push up an umbrella of health and wellness, including free services in counseling.
“We are creating a nonprofit called Brazos Valley Health Holistic Health Initiative to serve the underprivileged that don’t have the resources to seek therapy for themselves,” Bradley said.
As a runner in the 5k, Bradley faced the nightmare of most runners: an upward slope. While feeling the aches rise, going up the hill near George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Bradley found that extra kick came from the importance of the cause.
“It’s all for a really great cause,” Bradley said. “This is a beautiful campus, and it’s a great place to run.”
Psychology senior Martin Nunez, the president of A&M’s Psychology Club, said upon being contacted by Brazos Valley Health Initiative, he believed in its mission to provide free counseling for marginalized communities.
“I thought it was a great opportunity just to give back to the community,” Nunez said.
Nunez said the Brazos Valley area a mental health desert and emphasized the need to provide enrichment in mental health resources.
“There’s not enough funding for the institutions we need. This is a good start,” Nunez said.
Sherry Hafferkamp, a doctor of clinical psychology and founder of Brazos Valley Mental and Wellness, ran this message home: mental health is not something to fear.
In Halloween’s spirit, the fun run was in tribute to the stigma of fearing conversations around mental health. Volunteers like Nunez wore purple shirts sporting the message: “Mental Health isn’t scary,” giving this event a twist of Halloween. According to Hafferkamp, the “fun” in “fun run” came in all sorts: from frilly tutus to Bugs Bunny and Darth Vador helmets, some even accompanied by their four-legged running buddies.
“Our message is,there shouldn’t be anything scary about mental health — it should be something that [needs] to be addressed,” Hafferkamp said. “People get help in other areas of their lives. Every day, you have people that are not making grades; they find a tutor. The people who are not as healthy as they want to find a nutritionist or go to a medical doctor — it’s the same with mental health.”
Hafferkamp said among the most marginalized groups that are in need of mental health resources are those serving in the armed forces. .
“People fail to realize that when you go into the military, you’re going to experience things that you’re not prepared for — so when they come back, it’s hard,” Hafferkamp said. “I believe it’s our duty and our obligation to that population to be able to give them the healing that they need. It’s an honor to offer them the kind of interventions we want to get them back where they can reintegrate into society. And that’s our goal.”
Hafferkemp said those who want to help people experiencing mental health problems and in a dark place can walk alongside them. While battling depression can be a long and painful process, Hafferkamp said professionals like her are there to assist those in need.
“We’re here to let the student population know that we are here to help and are passionate about what we do,” Hafferkamp said. “ This isn’t just a job; you’re not just a number to us. We see you.”

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