Christopher Salazar, the organization’s treasurer, said the interactive approach taken by WSG helps build connections and community.
“Following such a difficult time with COVID and everything, I think everything took a passive approach, and not necessarily by choice, but just because that's what life required at that time,” Salazar said. “Now that we're transitioning away from that and being able to open back up, I think we see each other face to face. I think that means a lot for people.”
WSG recently hosted a “Meantime and Mental Health” event, sponsoring $100 worth of coffee for students. They also conduct biweekly meetings as well as publicity events in the Pit with “goodies” or service dogs during midterms or finals.
Morris said that while most are aware of the ongoing mental health crisis, there is a delay in acknowledging the existence of the issue and finding solutions.
“With my organization, I'm actively giving our members the skills they need to go and help fight the mental health crisis,” Morris said. “They have the resources available to them to help someone that is in a crisis. They have the steps and know how to reach out to people around them.”
Morris’ passion for the cause began at age 16, when she lost her father to suicide. Not wanting to let anyone go through the same thing she had gone through, she began her involvement in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. As a trained crisis text line counselor, she hopes to pass on some of the skills she has learned to WSG’s members.
“This club is really the product of someone who truly cares so much about this issue,” Sarah Masters, Morris’ close friend, said. “She basically put her heart and soul into this club.”
"Stomp The Stigma" walk
WSG is organizing a walk called “Stomp the Stigma” on March 3, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Quad.
The glow-in-the-dark themed event, owing to the “Glow” in the organization’s name, will include a keynote speaker from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as well as games, giveaways and a food truck.
“We want it to be a fun, light-hearted thing that people enjoy being at and enjoy going to, but also provide people with the resources and education they need to go out in their daily lives and fight the mental health crisis,” Morris said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.
Salazar said that not only do walks like “Stomp the Stigma” bring people together and give back to the community in terms of fundraising, but they also allow participants to build personal connections while getting exercise — a major contributor to mental health.
The UNC School of Social Work and other organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will have tables at the event. There will also be mental health first-aid training.
Carlee Markle, WSG’s social media manager, said that having an in-person event is more meaningful, and the mass consumption of digital content may not be as effective to educate and advocate.
“While digital marketing and social media is a great tool to spread awareness, it's only for those who are actually paying attention, which is going to be one out of every five viewers, or something like that,” Markle said. “The impact of having an in-person walk is so much more engaging. I feel the people in attendance will be people who truly do care.”
Morris is looking forward to seeing WSG expand and gain more support and acknowledgment from the UNC community. She hopes to make the walk an annual event and donate proceeds from fundraising to a specific mental health foundation each year.
“I just hope to be able to reach out to more people and just implement more service-based projects for our organization so we can just make as large of an impact as possible,” Morris said.