Rowan SGA Introduces Student Mental Health Advocate: Riya Bhatt

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Riya Bhatt will helm initiatives to serve students in their communication with the Wellness Center – Photo via Rowan University

In regards to what many consider to be a mental health crisis at Rowan University, the Student Government Association (SGA) has acquired reinforcements as junior Riya Bhatt takes on the inaugural position of assistant vice president of health, wellness, and safety.

Rowan provides many resources to help any and all students with whatever problems they may be encountering and with whatever they may be going through, and a lot of this help comes from the student government association or the SGA.

In her introductory email to the student body, Bhatt gave insight into some of the ways she helps out on campus. Her role involves staying up to date with the Wellness Center and any new data. In addition, she will work with accessibility services and helps make things more accessible for students with disabilities.

“My goals are to empower students to use health services that will promote optimal wellness and will remove any barriers any student may have,” Bhatt’s address read.

After joining the Rowan community as a pandemic student, Bhatt soon realized she wanted to become a leader and the best role model she could be for students. This led her to the SGA, where she has worked to ensure the safety of students. Bhatt feels that this isn’t a responsibility, but rather something she has always wanted to do.

“I didn’t know what to get involved in but I just wanted to become a leader for the community, for the university,” Bhatt said. “I just wanted to become the best role model for students.”

Brittany Auleta, Overseer of the Peer Education Program at Healthy Campus Initiatives, spoke on what purpose the Wellness Center serves to students.

“The Wellness Center encompasses Student Health Services, where students can come if they are feeling unwell. These counseling and psychological services are where students can seek opportunities to talk with a licensed counselor,” Auleta said.

In a combined effort with the Wellness Center, Bhatt also aimed to help Rowan navigate through COVID-19, as she was a part of testing locations and vaccination clinics at the Rowan REC Center. 

The Wellness Center prides itself on creating different systems and an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable and invited. As the new AVP of Health, Wellness, and Safety, Bhatt wanted to help out her fellow students and lead them through these types of transitions. 

This shared desire to create a safe environment for everyone is what led Bhatt to her current position, and what prompted her initiative that helped create it.

While Rowan University states that they are adamant on creating a strong sense of community and support for students, Riya Bhatt is here to help with this goal. 

While asking Riya about some of her favorite events regarding the wellness of students, I learned she was fond of “Fresh Check Day.” Fresh Check Day is a mental health promotion and suicide prevention event hosted by colleges, and Bhatt believes that it is one of the best ways to bring awareness to the mental health environment on campus. Rowan University’s Fresh Check Day will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bhatt’s focus on students, their success, and their well-being are factors that she believe’s make her primed for this new role. She encourages students to reach out to her about concerns regarding health, wellness, or safety.

“If you have any concerns regarding health, wellness, safety, accessibility or whatever concerns a student may have, please bring them to my attention,” Bhatt said.

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