BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Southern University and Athletes for Hope took over the Bluff Friday to host a wellness summit for students and staff, focusing on mental health.

“To come out and share your story, and say, ‘Hey, I’m not ok.’ But we have to know that not being ok, is ok,” said Jemiela Castleberry, a licensed social worker, and behavioral health counselor.

As part of Southern University Athletics’ Fan Fest Weekend, the Wellness Festival included mental health professionals and advocates’ presentations. Highlights include a presentation from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) CEO Daniel Gillison who raises awareness about the mental health needs of college students.

The athlete panel moderated by Dr. Marlin Hollins, Southern University’s assistant athletic director of advancement, focused on campus area mental health resources. Yoga, mindfulness moments, and targeted vendors concentrating on mental health community support.

“It’s important we had an event like this, just because there’s this stigma about how athletes have to be strong at all times,” said Raquel Latta, a senior softball player.

As an HBCU, Southern is taking an active role in talking about mental health in the Black community — especially among its student-athletes.

“In the long run, sports isn’t just about winning and losing, it’s shaping our future for people,” said Latta.

Southern’s campus has been rocked by the tragedies of mental illness within the Jaguar community.

“This past semester, we lost one of our Jaguars. and I must say that her name was Arlana Miller,” said Hollins.

Dr. Hollins adds, that the University, “We’re always here and that you’re always the champion and we do love you.”

Call 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and follow their guidance. You can also visit their website for further information.

You can also visit Southern University’s website about mental health counseling services.