Florida State University hosted its second annual Fresh Check Day to promote mental health, alert students to campus resources and lessen the stigma associated with mental illness.
Students, faculty and staff gathered on Landis Green to learn how FSU addresses mental wellness and how to better support their peers. Organizers aimed to provide the community with information and resources to identify when someone needs help.
“Learning about the warning signs for suicide prevention and reaching out to those who you recognize are in crisis can save a life,” said Sue Shapiro, Noles C.A.R.E. Coordinator and licensed psychologist at the University Counseling Center.
Students enjoyed a live DJ, food and prizes as they travelled to each organization’s table. A passport was provided and individuals received stamps from booths as they learned about the resources available. At some tables, students were encouraged to reflect on their own mental health, like at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) table.
“We’re trying to get people to write down their elephant in the room, which means anything they’re struggling with, which is often mental illness,” said Devon Kramer, a freshman member of NAMI. “That way they get it out in the air, are able to talk about it and reduce the stigma.”
At the Veterans Student Union table, student-veterans were recognized and individuals learned how to prioritize mental health.
“We’re asking all the students to come by and write something uplifting to their student-veterans,” said Sean Williams, a junior student-veteran and executive board member of the Veterans Student Union. “There’s about 400 of us physically on campus, and over 1,200 of us who attend FSU. We’re also giving handouts of techniques we use and different ways to help cope with stress.”
Speakers shared their personal experiences, and students learned about the 9/10 campaign, which encourages individuals to identify warning signs and be one of the nine people to help the 10th who is struggling with mental illness.
“It’s really important to understand that we’re not alone, that we’re partners in this,” said Sarah Gubara, RENEW coordinator for the University Counseling Center. “We have a responsibility to each other as peers and as classmates on this campus.”
Fresh Check Day brought to light issues that can be difficult to discuss and encouraged students to check on their own well-being with the help of campus resources.
“A lot of college students deal with stress, especially freshmen coming in to college,” said freshman Paulina Mendez. “It’s hard to adjust, so it’s good to know that we have support.”
Created by The Jordan Porco Foundation, the free event was organized by the FSU Counseling Center and the FSU Peer Educator Program, RENEW, in collaboration with other FSU departments, student volunteers and representatives of The Jordan Porco Foundation.
For more information about the FSU Counseling Center, visit counseling.fsu.edu.