FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's no secret mental health crises are on the rise among students. According to health experts, educators can help students protect their mental wellness.
"I feel like, as college students, we don't often get congratulated. Some people have different support systems and different levels of support," said Fresno State senior, Alicia Benitez. "I think just having them know that there are people who care about them and are proud of them, and to keep going -- finish off the semester strong."
Fresno State students are preparing for final exams with colorful encouragement.
"We're writing positive messages to the students in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month," said Benitez.
University staff know the weeks leading up to finals can take a toll on students. They decided to focus on mental health for one of the semester's last Wellness Wednesdays.
Students can pick up healthy snacks and get information on wellness resources on campus.
According to the university's registered dietician, it's essential for students to understand the connection between physical and mental health.
"If we eat healthy, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, and do other healthy behaviors, it's not only beneficial to our physical health but also to our mental health," said Stephanie Annett. "People report better moods, more happiness, lower rates of depression."
Meanwhile, health experts said younger students also feel the stresses of school and life.
However, they believe it's refreshing to see mental health becoming a daily topic in elementary and middle schools.
"If we can help a kid at five or eight or 12, their lives could be simpler at 15 or 18 or 28 or 68," said Lynne Ashbeck, the Valley Children's Healthcare Chief Community Impact Officer.
Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno held a "Let's CHALK About Mental Health" event on Monday -- similar to Fresno State.
Ashbeck said it's important for adults to give children a safe space to express themselves and sometimes it's done in creative ways.
"Have them draw a picture," Ashbeck suggested. "Write a story."
Aside from home, students spend most of their day at school.
It's the reason why health experts encourage educators to have mental health awareness as part of the curriculum.
One Fresno State student, who works at the campus health and wellness center, said she's seen the college's efforts lead to more students reaching out for help.
"Someone is there willing to listen," said senior Veronica Zarate. "Even if you think there's no one there, there is someone there."
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