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Mental Health Awareness Week Extravanganza

October 12, 2012 by Crystal Lorenzo

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Happy Mental Health Awareness Week!

I hope you all had a jolly week and had a chance to learn something about mental health, and if not, let this be your chance!

I promised that this post was going to be better than the last, and it will be! I've had quite a busy week!

Last Friday started our Columbus Day long weekend so I went home for the first time since we started. I got to see my best friend, my cat and my whole family, so it was awesome. We had spaghetti Saturday at my grandma's and grandpa's, and all my aunts and uncles were there, as well as most of my cousins (the ones that are in the area and aren't on their own adventures in Hawaii, Detroit or Lake George.). I love getting together with my family, people who genuinely care about what's going on in my life and people who know me well enough that I can be myself in front of and not worry about it at all. My grandparents are the cutest people in the world, too, so seeing them was precious!

Crystal LorenzoIn anticipation of Mental Health Awareness Week, Molly and I  made lime green mental health awareness ribbons to sell at our To Write Love on Her Arms table this week in Gallagher. We slaved over that hot glue gun for hours, and I think they came out pretty spiffy if I may say so! Since we had Monday off, Tuesday started off the week. In the morning, a few members of To Write Love helped Active Minds (a mental health awareness club on campus) chalked mental health awareness facts and encouraging messages all around campus (as you can see in the picture””that I look like a 12-year-old in!). The best part about that morning was one girl who walked by us and said, “I like you guys, you guys are writing really nice things and I appreciate it!” If we can make one person's day a little brighter, we have done our job.

After chalking the campus, we did an event called Get It Off Your Chest. This event is somewhat similar to PostSecret, but the gist is that we had tons of paint swatches and we invited people to write a secret on the paint swatches and submit it into this big box. It was completely anonymous and we ended up collecting 81 secrets!

Some of the secrets were funny such as, “I still count on my fingers” (which I totally do too, so whoever wrote that, I feel ya!), and some were much heavier. It was a really eye-opening experience for me, reading the secrets when the day was done. Seeing what people really hold inside really reminds me that what we are doing with To Write Love on Her Arms really matters, and that it is something where we can really make a difference in people's lives and spread hope. We are going to display the anonymous secrets in Gallagher. Hopefully, people will be able to read some of them and realize that they are not alone and that other people feel the same way or have had the same experiences. I know that reading some of the secrets from people that also could have been my own made me remember that I am definitely not alone in any way. I think this was such a good event for us to do this week and I hope that it will give someone strength to reach out and realize that that is 100 percent okay. (Here is a picture from us sitting at our table!)

TWLOHAWe had our normal meeting on Wednesday (for TWLOHA), and our topic of discussion this week was anxiety/stress. So, of course, we made stress balls! Which went horribly wrong! By the end of the meeting I was completely COVERED in flour, as were all my books and binders. Molly even had flour on her face, poor thing! Who knew making stress balls would be so stressful?! I was seriously out of breath by the time I finished making half of the members' stress balls (they were so difficult that I just ended up making a lot of people's”¦ haha..). But it was fun, so I guess that's all that matters!

On Thursday, I spoke briefly about To Write Love on Her Arms at a Mental Health Awareness Talk put on by Active Minds. There were presenters from Counseling Services as well as a talk by Dr. Tim Osberg (a clinical psychologist and psychology professor here, also my advisor and our club advisor!). After that, my friend, Michaella, came up here to visit and then her, her friend, Molly, and I all went to Spot Coffee in Buffalo to meet my best friend from home, Jon, and one of his friends there for the evening! It was so much fun and awesome to get away for a little while and not think about studying! Haha--but really!

Crystal LorenzoFinishing off this WONDERFUL week of Mental Health Awareness, we (TWLOHA) did a Black Flag Event. On Friday morning at 8 a.m., about eight of us took 500 flags and stuck them in the ground in a big grassy area outside of the Gallagher Center. The 500 flags are a visual representation of the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Inside Gallagher, we had a table where members of TWLOHA sat and handed out To Write Love on Her Arms postcards, resource cards and Counseling Center information sheets. We also continued our Get It Off Your Chest event and collected quite a few more secrets. We encouraged people if they are struggling to really reach out and ask for help, because that is the strongest thing someone can do. Knowing that you cannot handle something alone and not trying to insist that you are strong enough to do it alone, it really shows something courageous about a person's character. It's all about being honest and really taking care of yourself. The very last thing we want is for anyone here to think that they are alone and that help is not possible, it really is possible and the resources are available. It's so great to have such an awesome team of people with TWLOHA, people that I can count on to sit at our tables, or help set up/tear down our events. It's such an awesome thing.

Crystal LorenzoWell, I hope you enjoyed reading all about our week of Mental Health Awareness! I am now off to Glens Falls for the weekend to visit my cousin! Cannot wait! (: