Associated Students Inc. (ASI) hosted their annual “Buck the Stigma” care and wellness week from Oct. 11-15, aiming to beat the stigma around mental health conversations.

“Midterms are oftentimes very difficult on individuals’ mental health, and the purpose behind many of these booths is to give students the opportunity to rest and recharge during this stressful time,” ASI Secretary of Health and Wellbeing Cynthia Diaz said.

Through both online and in-person events, ASI tackled issues from self care to toxic masculinity. They said they hope to bring students together as a community in doing so.

“Buck the Stigma is a great opportunity for our Cal Poly community to build stronger connections with one another through the interactive and educational activities that help students gain more insight into how to not only support themselves but those around them as well,” Diaz said.

As the week continued, ASI packed each day with events that foster wellbeing — including therapy dogs, planting succulents, dialogue groups, passing out roses and hosting guest speakers.

Buck the Stigma concluded with the 23rd anniversary of the Mark S. Reuling Volleyball Tournament, where teams of university employees and students compete to raise money for mental health education on Cal Poly’s campus. The revenue from participants go to the Reuling Memorial Endowment —created by Cal Poly parents Pam and Ed Reuling, whose son, Mark Reuling, died with bipolar disorder and depression. They established this memorial endowment to bring attention and education to bipolar disorder and depression for the Cal Poly community.

Diaz reflected on this being Buck the Stigma’s first year in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re really trying to propel forward and grow from everything we’ve gone through as a community … and seeing ways that we can reflect on COVID and really try to push ourselves forward to be our best selves,” Diaz said.

Diaz said Buck the Stigma is one way of acknowledging and recognizing stigmas people have of mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

“It allows people to educate themselves and to recognize, ‘you’re not alone,’” Diaz said. “By having vulnerability, you’re building connections, you’re building … a community where people can feel comfortable to be wholeheartedly themselves and not be afraid of judgment.”

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