Student groups working to raise awareness about mental health

A group of graduate and undergrad student organizations are leading an effort that empowers students to speak openly about mental health and wellness, ultimately changing the perception and conversation around the topic.

Back in 2004, when Frank Warren created PostSecret, an ongoing community mail art project in which people share never-before-voiced secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard, few anticipated the extraordinary and poignant results. In a series of best-selling books that feature some of the 1 million postcards he has received from around the world, Warren demonstrates the power of sharing hopes, dreams, fears and failures, and how the PostSecret movement became the catalyst for his passionate commitment to mental health advocacy.

As we prepare to welcome Warren as the keynote speaker for HYPE Day #2 on Wednesday, October 23, Chi Sigma Iota (graduate counseling honorary), the Student Engagement Office and SLAMH (Students Leading Awareness for Mental Health), are planning a series of pre-PostSecret events to introduce the campus to the concept.

According to MAC grad student Courtney Hughes-Ksenich, one of the organizers, PostSecretU events will precede Warren’s talk and then continue afterwards, from Oct. 23-Nov. 6. The groups are working through the Active Minds organization to plan and carry out the events, which aim to break down the bariers of mental illness by creating a safe, comfortable and anonymous space to share your secret.

Here’s what the groups have planned for Heidelberg’s PostSecretU:

Kickoff: Oct. 22 from 9 p.m.-midnight – reading of secrets from the PostSecret archive (The Commons)

  • Frank Warren’s HYPE keynote – Oct. 23 at 9:30 a.m. (Seiberling Gymnasium)
  • Collection of Secrets: Oct. 23-29 – Students will receive blank postcards after the keynote and can drop them off at The Commons, the Bookstore, Stoner Health Center or Hoernemann anytime during the week.
  • PostSecret Unveiling: Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. – revealing of the display of all postcards (The Commons)

“We really think PostSecretU will be a gateway to inspire conversations about the problems, stresses and struggles that so many students are facing but don’t feel comfortable talking about,” says Courtney, a ’17 ‘Berg grad who will complete her master’s degree in May. “Hopefully, it will begin to break down the stigma around mental illness.”

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