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KNOXVILLE — Mental health can take a backseat to other concerns and priorities for many college students. But failing to pay attention to mental health can lead to serious problems and affect students’ studies, work and personal life.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is working to raise mental health awareness through VolAware events this week. VolAware is UT’s mental health awareness, wellness and suicide prevention campaign.

UT Knoxville will team up with the Knoxville chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Tuesday, Oct. 6, for the “Stomp Out Stigma” concert. The free event will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. in Presidential Court and will feature JayStorm — voted Best of Knoxville 2008 by Metro Pulse readers — in concert with Jackson Mohr. Attendees can learn about mental health resources in the community while watching UT fraternities and sororities will go head-to-head in a stroll-off competition, raising funds for NAMI. Concert-goers may vote for their favorite performance by dropping money into jars designated for each stroll-off group.

Events continue Wednesday, Oct. 7, with the annual VolAware Street Fair, beginning at 11 a.m., on the University Center Plaza. The fair features free games and activities such as mental health “Jeopardy!” and the inner child play center, as well as booths staffed by mental health, wellness and professional development organizations. There also will be opportunities for individuals to receive suicide prevention training through Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training sessions, and an art competition and personal safety demonstrations will take place. Exercise classes, including yoga, cycling and cardio sessions, will take place throughout the day at the Tennessee Recreational Center for Students (TRECS).

For a complete schedule of the VolAware events, visit

Both the concert and street fair are hosted by the UT Counseling Center and the Safety, Environment and Education (SEE) Center.

UT Knoxville makes available a variety of resources for students, faculty and staff. The Counseling Center offers free and confidential counseling for individuals, couples and groups. The Dean of Students Office acts as a clearinghouse for students to connect with services on campus, and a case manager is available to help students. The university has provided faculty and staff with a protocol to help distressed students. Faculty, staff and students can call 974-HELP to report concerns about someone who may be a risk to themselves or others.

For more information, visit

C O N T A C T :

Rebekah Winkler, (865-974-8304,