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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Karina Esteban, Associated Students executive vice president Karina Esteban, Associated Students executive vice president

Student Leader Looks to Expand Outreach for Mental Health Resources

Karina Esteban, executive vice president for Associated Students, wants students to know where to go for help.
By SDSU News Team

Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have more in common than their status as superstar athletes: All three have publicly dealt with mental health issues and the surrounding stigma.

It’s a topic San Diego State University’s Associated Students executive vice president Karina Esteban understands herself and is determined to act on. “I’ve personally struggled with mental health and I know many other students have as well — especially over the course of this past year,” said Esteban, a marketing major at the Fowler College of Business.

“I want to work toward breaking down the stigma of mental health to allow students to feel comfortable talking about their personal struggles, and to not be afraid to ask for help.”

Esteban, currently a senior, was elected to the 2021-22 term last spring on the platform of ensuring and expanding access to mental health resources for students and to increase opportunities for women of color.

It was the university’s focus on student leadership opportunities that compelled her to attend SDSU and it was her passion for creativity that prompted her to major in marketing.

“I wanted to attend a university where the student experience was a priority and SDSU encompasses that — from athletics, to student organizations, to leadership roles. There are many ways to be a part of the SDSU community,” said Esteban. “I chose to major in marketing with a specialization in integrated marketing communications, because it combines my love of art, design, media and leadership with business.”

Esteban plans to draw on her marketing skills to shed light on the mental health resources available to her fellow students now that SDSU has returned to in-person learning.

“It has been a difficult transition back to campus because of the long-term effects of the pandemic on the students’ personal lives,” she said. “Whether someone has lost a loved one, a job, or faced mental health struggles for the first time in their life, these life-changing situations still impact students’ lives and have not subsided just because we are back on campus. I want to market the resources available to students so that they know how to better access those resources and feel comfortable in doing so.”

Among the student mental health resources recommended by Esteban are SDSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center for Well-Being, individual or group counseling, biofeedback, and the Student Ability Success Center.

“Right now, we are working on a suicide prevention awareness push where we are sharing information about on- and off-campus resources through social media, handing out bracelets with the purple and teal suicide awareness colors, and a flyer describing these resources,” said Estaban. “I am also sitting on the steering committee for the Aztec Recreation Center (ARC) where I’m focused on the center’s expansion and marketing the fact that all students now have access to the ARC. Exercise and regular physical activity can have positive impact on mental health.”

When she graduates in May, Esteban said she would like to work for a marketing agency or a company within the fashion industry, though earning an MBA or a master’s degree in fine arts might also be in her future. In the meantime, however, her primary goal is to serve students by providing them access to information regarding SDSU’s available mental health resources.

In doing so, she said she thinks about those athletes who have been willing to put a public face on a previously private issue. “I absolutely support these women’s choices in putting themselves first,” she said. “It is important to prioritize mental health because it affects all other areas of life.”