Students create projects to fight mental health stigma



Students buzzed around Ballantine 109 as they hurried to put the final touches on their campaign presentations for Sociology 101.

Susan Barnett, project manager for UBringChange2Mind at IU, said 12 out of the 17 groups would choose to present their campaigns to more than just their ?classmates.

UBringChange2Mind is a campaign initiated by the College Toolbox Project in collaboration with actress Glenn Close’s national campaign, Bring Change to Mind, to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental illness, according to ?ubc2m.iu.edu/engage.html.

This section of Sociology 101, under special topic ”#stigmasucks,” is specifically geared toward combating this stigma. Barnett said the coursework has accumulated into student presentations that could be implemented on college campuses to ?address the issue of stigma.

Student groups were given the option to take their idea to the next level by presenting it to Close, faculty and executives of Bring Change to Mind on Monday and Tuesday, Barnett said.

Barnett said these campaign presentations are just launching the effort to end stigma on campus.

“What students come up with for campaigns is going to be the majority of what we deal with,” she said. “So really it’s just the beginning.”

Junior David Haggerty, director of research analysis for UBringChange2Mind, said it was better to start with students’ opinions of what issues need to be addressed.

“This is sort of our big kickoff year to try to understand what the current environment around mental health on campus is,” he said.

Freshman Emily Brzegowy said the course has opened her eyes to how prevalent of an issue mental health stigma is and why it is necessary to face it.

Senior Kailyn Haverstock said she agreed.

“I realized that we need to talk about it more,” she said. “It’s not something we need to keep hush-hush.”

Brezgowy and Haverstock, along with freshman teammate Sydney Shilkett, developed their campaign, Kick Stigma in the Balls. Brezgowy said their campaign brings awareness to mental illness through a ?kickball tournament.

“This is, like, something that I need to get out there,” she said. “I have to do this, there’s no ifs, ands or buts.”

Now U See Me, another student group pitching to the executives, includes seniors Kelsey Frank, Olga Munteanu and Ellen Hallberg and freshman Jessiah Headdy.

Headdy said the coursework and collaboration opened them up to each other by embracing their own vulnerabilities and discoveries about ?mental health.

“It was just very interesting to see all of our ideas not only form with us but innovate how we see the subject as well,” he said. “By being able to single that out, we were able to build a ?stronger foundation.”

Frank said the campaign would include small pop-up events such as caricature art and “Selfie with a Stranger” in the Arboretum to fight stigmas.

Ultimately, she said the group realized they should cater to a broader audience on campus.

“They don’t necessarily have to be about mental illness,” Frank said. “It’s about breaking down barriers.”

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