Trinity Progressives work to reduce stigma surrounding mental health with Mental Health Week

Last week was Trinity Progressives’ Mental Health Week, throughout which they hosted a series of events meant to raise awareness of mental health issues and the resources Trinity offers its students to help in this area.

Events ranged from a performance by Josh Rivedal, to a campfire discussion, to a Destress Fest to help students relax after a long week.

One of the goals of Mental Health Week was to raise awareness about the mental health resources on campus and how to best utilize them.

“Mental Health Week is meant mainly to increase awareness of the resources like counseling services we have on campus to help with various mental health issues,” said Beth Legg, co-president of Trinity Progressives.

Trinity Progressives also used the week to address the ways people think about mental health.

“One of our other big goals is to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. I don’t think that is really a huge issue on our campus, but just in general it’s important for people to be able to be open about it. So that’s really Mental Health Week in a nutshell. Raise awareness, reduce stigma,” Legg said.

Legg continued to discuss exactly why it is so important for college students to have this discussion on mental health and why it is important that we develop an environment that is aware of both the issue and the resources available to treat it.

“It’s very common for people to get diagnosed in college. Age 18 to 24 is a peak time for mental illness to develop,” Legg said. “So it’s really important that we have an environment where people are aware of mental illness and are able to openly talk about it and in which people know they’re not alone if they’re dealing with mental illness. Not only that but they should know that they have access to a lot of resources for free on campus,” Legg said.

Legg went on to describe what she found to be the most effective events during Mental Health Week.

“I think our tabling throughout the week was most effective in terms of helping people learn about the resources that they have access to and can take advantage of if they need to. We passed out flyers and pamphlets from counseling services, and hopefully the people who took them now know a little bit more about them and will be more encouraged seek them out,” Legg said.

The  Destress Fest was another successful event. The event featured free food, a petting zoo and a yoga demonstration.

“In terms of having people come to our events, though, I’d say our Destress Fest on Friday was most successful because people were able to come get free food, see cute animals and have fun while still being a part of an event that hopefully showed them some of the resources that are available to them,” Legg said.

Nick Santulli, co-president of Trinity Progressives, elaborated on some of the challenges of putting together such a large event.

“With Mental Health Week, there are a lot of events all happening at once, and each one requires a lot of planning and a lot of collaboration, so it can be hard to keep up with it all and get it all done for each event. A lot of it was just trying to make sure that none of the smaller things fell through the cracks. We just had to find a balance between making sure big events like Josh Rivedal were set up and going smoothly and little things like making sure we had the marshmallows for the s’mores at the sharing circle,” Santulli said.

Despite the challenges, he would call Mental Health Week a success and is glad it happened.

“In the end, though, everything went smoothly and I’m glad we did it,” Santulli said. “I think it’s important that we have events like this on campus so that people who are facing problems with mental health know that they’re not alone, and so that others are at least aware of some of the issues others might be facing.”