Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) is helping promote Mental Health Awareness Week, titled “Buck the Stigma,” for the first time in Spring 2016.
According to agricultural business senior and ASI President Owen Schwaegerle, the event started as a senior project by a kinesiology student.
“They did a whole campaign about ‘Buck the Stigma’ going off Cal Poly’s ‘Buck the Gauchos,’” Schwaegerle said. “The whole message for that week is ‘Buck the Stigma;’ we want students to be okay with admitting that they have a problem and willing to go to someone for help.”
The week is dedicated to educating students and providing resources on the topic of mental health, agricultural business sophomore and ASI Secretary of Campus Responsibility Riley Nilsen said.
“We decided that mental health is an issue on our campus and we wanted to do something about it in order to a) inform the students on what mental health might look like and b) we wanted to eliminate any social stigma surrounding mental health,” Nilsen said.
Every branch of student government decided mental health is an important topic that needs to be discussed with the student population.
“We saw it as a need within the students, just with recent events on campus dealing with perceptions,” Nilsen said. “It’s affecting our entire campus climate, so we wanted to tackle that with a positive way to celebrate our students.”
ASI will be collaborating with PULSE in providing educational resources and information to students.
“It is going to be a weeklong (event filled) of education and building awareness of the topic of mental health,” Schwaegerle said. “Since one out of four Americans struggle with it, it is something that we want students to be informed about so that they know what to do when they or their friends are struggling with some sort of mental health (issue).”
Events will take place from May 16-19. Each day will have a themed educational portion and activity.
“I think the activities do a good job of engaging students and indirectly having a key message,” Nilsen said. “It’s going to be more like a fun activity to promote how to be self-aware about mental health.”
Here is a list of the week’s activities:
- Monday: Love your Selfie Day — This day is targeted toward students with eating disorders and body disorders. Students will have the chance to take selfies of themselves in order to promote positive body images.
- Tuesday: De-stress Fest — There will be a ball pit, acroyoga, finger painting and volleyball on Dexter Lawn. “We want to bring students back to when they were five years old and had no worries in the world,” Nilsen said. “We incorporated activities that were fun and would trigger your creative side versus worrying about things that might be bothering you at school or home.”
- Wednesday: What Lifts You Up Day — There will be giant chalkboard in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) to facilitate “chalk talks” to focus on the positivity in each student’s life.
- Thursday: Celebrate Awareness Day — This day is dedicated to bucking the stigma, complete with a mechanical bull in the UU.
“We are going to celebrate all of our students’ courage that they have with battling these mental disorders, or just being stressed out and knowing that they can deal with that,” Nilsen said.
ASI’s Mental Health Awareness Week will take place during midterms. May is also National Mental Health Awareness Month.
“It is perfect timing with midterms and students being stressed,” Nilsen said. “We are capitalizing on a time when students do need distractions from school and time to focus on their personal well-being.”