Marquette Wire

MUSG member creates “You’re not Alone” campaign

In+late+September%2C+Marquette+University+Student+Government+members+participated+in+a+retreat+to+learn+more+about+leadership+and+to+grow+comfortable+with+one+another.+It+spurred+one+student+to+create+a+mental+health+initiative.%C2%A0
In late September, Marquette University Student Government members participated in a retreat to learn more about leadership and to grow comfortable with one another. It spurred one student to create a mental health initiative. 

In late September, Marquette University Student Government members participated in a retreat to learn more about leadership and to grow comfortable with one another. It spurred one student to create a mental health initiative. 

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

In late September, Marquette University Student Government members participated in a retreat to learn more about leadership and to grow comfortable with one another. It spurred one student to create a mental health initiative. 

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In late September, Marquette University Student Government members participated in a retreat to learn more about leadership and to grow comfortable with one another. It spurred one student to create a mental health initiative. 

Aisling Hegarty, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said that MUSG members participated in an activity during the retreat where they had to step forward if certain statements applied to them. The single statement that every person stepped forward for was “cross the line if you have ever felt lonely in college.”

After the retreat ended, this experience stayed on Hegarty’s mind.

The ‘You’re Not Alone Campaign,’ kicked off an event Sunday, Dec. 3 was an effort to strip away the stigma surrounding mental health and begin catalyzing conversations in hopes of ridding the stigma around mental illnesses. She reached out to MUSG, Active Minds and the Counseling Center.

Nick Jenkins, a counselor and coordinator for mental health advocacy at Marquette, said he believes that individuals with mental health concerns are just like everyone else.

“When it comes to issues around mental health, I think that often time we see the people who experience mental health concerns in a negative light or put them in this category,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he believes everyone struggles with low mood or gets anxious sometimes, and there is more to the person than their struggles or the difficulties they face.

“When we look at individuals as fully realized people, it does break down the stigma,” Jenkins said.

At the campaign Sunday, students and faculty were invited to hold up statements about their mental health and take a picture in Johnston Hall. Among the twenty-some individuals who participated were President Lovell and his wife, Amy Lovell.

Lovell said he believes mental health in our society is often misunderstood. He was excited to take part in the initiative because “the great thing is when you raise awareness and give people tools and empower them to not be afraid to come forward when they have these issues and to seek the help they need to be successful in life.”

Active Minds, an organization on campus dedicated to empowering individuals to speak openly about their mental illnesses, played a role in the campaign. President Michelle Frederick said she grew up being educated about mental health. “With mental health, one of the hardest parts is beginning conversation,” Frederick said.

The campaign hopes to do exactly that. “It’s important for the campus community to realize there are people who have mental health concerns here and in some ways normalize that. I think the whole goal of this program is to break down some of these stereotypes,” Jenkins said.

Hegarty said she believes everyone has a difficult time at Marquette at some point, and that is normal. “There’s something important in spreading the message that it’s not that small group of people,” Hegarty said.

In fact, she said she believes high-functioning and successful people are often the ones who struggle with mental health concerns.

Hegarty said she hopes the pictures will be used in a display around campus next semester. Eventually, a video will be created to raise awareness about the issue.

Jenkins said he hopes conversations will continue surrounding mental health. He would like to see conversations be incorporated in classrooms, residence halls and everyday life. He knows this is necessary so “people have access sooner to what resources are available and how to connect with others.”

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