Because students’ mental stability is often put on hold in favor of a busy schedule, a day of study and self-care is necessary when students enter the sixth week of class.
Quinnipiac University Counseling Services held their annual Fresh Check Day on Bobcat Way on October 5th. The event raised awareness of psychological problems and suicide prevention.
“Fresh Check Day provides a fun, relaxed environment for students to learn more about mental health and suicide prevention,” said Mary Pellitteri, university advisor and event organizer. “We hope to increase knowledge of mental health problems and take steps to improve mood and functioning.”
The Fresh Check Day has been an integral part of the fall semester at Quinnipiac since 2015. He is affiliated with the Jordan Porco Foundation, a Hartford-based nonprofit that aims to “combat stigma through open conversation about mental health.” The organization was founded by the parents of Jordan Porco, a freshman at Saint Michael’s College who killed himself in 2011.
The lively atmosphere featured interactive booths, each with an important mental health message. A volunteer instructed students upon check-in to visit five of the 10 booths in order to qualify to win some prizes.
“I think an event like this is important because you never really know what someone is going through,” said Abigail Federico, a freshman health scientist. “When someone fights in silence and when they go outside and see an event like this, they immediately have a lot of resources and people to talk to and a lot of information about where to get help when they need it.”
After checking in, each guest had to show up “nine out of 10” at the booth in recognition of the statistic that one in 10 college students is contemplating suicide. Its aim is to support those who do not deal with suicidal ideation to support those who are struggling with the problem that is far too common.
Katie Castell, a graduate student in biomedical sciences, checked in attendees to the event. She said she looks forward to Fresh Check Day every year.
“(Mental health awareness) is so important,” said Castell. “I think it’s not talked about enough on college campuses, especially about people who have come from far and may be away from their families for the first time.
Many student organizations participated in the event’s activities, including the Women’s Ice Hockey Team, the Gender Sexuality Alliance, the Student Programming Board, the Student Government Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Mental Health Literacy Project, and the Behavioral Neuroscience Club.
The “elephant in the room” booth motivated the guests to anonymously write down something they were struggling with and place it next to other daily stressors.
“I think it’s really important to normalize that it’s okay to struggle mentally and need support, you know, we live in a society that kind of stigmatizes mental health,” said Caris Disharoon, a senior nurse . “Having to seek help and go to therapy and have these connections and have those intimate moments when I need help, when I feel like something is normalizing like, ‘Hey, there are a lot of ways dealing with stress and other problems like that ‘and it makes it a lot more normal and also a lot less strange to normal people. “
Another table drew attention to eating disorders. Students wrote things they loved about themselves on mirrors.
“One in five students has either an eating disorder, a habit, or an eating disorder in general,” said Abby Burke, a freshman elementary school teacher. “We want to raise awareness and give students the resources they need to be successful in college and not have to worry about having these fears.”