It’s a week dedicated to promoting awareness, providing support and phasing out the stigma attached to mental illness.
Ohio State will be recognizing National Mental Health Awareness week from Oct. 6 through Oct. 12 with events, workshops and activities from various organizations on campus.
“The purpose of the week is to raise awareness regarding the importance of mental health and decrease stigma surrounding mental illness,” Megan Amaya, director of health promotion and wellness for the College of Nursing and one of the coordinators of the week’s events, said in an email.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, U.S. Congress established Mental Health Awareness Week in 1990. It is now recognized by mental health advocates across the country to promote education and awareness.
The week’s events at OSU are to kick off Monday with a presentation called “Preventing, Identifying and Managing Stress, Anxiety and Depression” at 10 a.m. at the RPAC and a stress reduction workshop at 5 p.m. at the Younkin Success Center.
A presentation called “Getting Better,” hosted by OSU alumnus Jeffrey Sparr, an artist who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is set to be held at Ohio Union Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. The event is presented by PeaceLove, an organization working to create more acceptance of mental illness and give hope to those affected using art. There is also a yoga class for relaxation and stress reduction at the Ohio Union, scheduled for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The week will wrap up Friday with an event presenting positive psychology activities at Ohio Union from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., put on by OSU Counseling and Consultation Services and the Boo Radley Society.
Marygrace Ashdown, founder of the Boo Radley Society, which is a student organization dedicated to promoting positivity on campus through random acts of kindness, said Mental Health Awareness Week’s goals line up with her group’s mission.
“We’re promoting better mental health though positivity,” said Ashdown, a fourth-year in marketing. “Being social, being active, being outside, interacting with other human beings … it immediately uplifts your spirit and can help you feel more comfortable with dealing with whatever you’re going through.”
Amaya said collaborators for the events came from many different departments and groups, such as the Office of Student Life and the Boo Radley Society, among others.
“Everyone involved is incredibly passionate about positive mental health, particularly for faculty, staff and students,” Amaya said.
But this collaborative effort is not the only way Mental Health Awareness week is being recognized on campus. The OSU chapter of NAMI will be having its own event Wednesday on the Oval from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. where members will be taking pictures of students holding signs explaining why mental health is important to them. There will also be therapy dogs, snacks and informational flyers at the event.
“There are resources to help (a friend who is dealing with mental health issues), or to help yourself. It’s just recognizing that everyone feels bad at some point in their life,” said Arin Waechter, a graduate student in occupational therapy and the co-president of NAMI, who added her group spends all year working to promote mental health awareness. “We want to end the stigma, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And there are ways that we can help you.”
Although there are many groups participating in the week, Ashdown said they are all working toward the same goal: to promote positivity about mental illness, to provide resources to those who need it and to raise awareness. She also said she hopes the events will help those suffering recognize they aren’t alone.
“Hopefully they feel uplifted, hopefully they feel supported, and if they’re not feeling supported, they know where to go for help,” Ashdown said.