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The Daily Tar Heel

Behind the Mental Health Collaborative

Emmy Martin

Emmy Martin is the editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Every time I walk through the Pit at UNC, I remember the sticky notes and flowers left on those green chairs three years ago. I remember the candles that sat at their feet, the messages written in chalk on the bricks. 

Your fire will never truly die,” the largest chalk message said. I remember the four students who died by suicide that semester. 

A makeshift memorial was set up in the Pit on Monday as students and faculty mourned the losses of the weekend. Passersby left notes of encouragement and flowers.

The mental health crisis we face has not subsided. Last year, N.C. State lost seven students to suicide. From 2016 to 2020, there were 878 deaths by suicide of people ages 15 to 24 in North Carolina. A national survey conducted by the American College Health Association found that 52 percent of undergraduate students regularly experienced moderate psychological distress. While this problem isn’t new, it feels more important than ever. 

That’s why The Daily Tar Heel partnered with eight other college newspapers to report on mental health challenges shared by those in each of their communities.

The Mental Health Collaborative is the result of months of rigorous reporting, research, conversations, writing, editing and designing. This initiative began in 2023, when The Daily Tar Heel was awarded a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network as part of its Student Media Challenge initiative. That grant helped fund the collaborative work of this project. Many of the stories you will read in this collaborative do more than just present a problem — they also explore solutions to this crisis.

The Daily Tar Heel is honored to have had the privilege of working with The A&T Register, The Duke Chronicle, The East Carolinian, The Niner Times, The Old Gold & Black, The Pendulum, The Seahawk and Technician on this project.

With more than 30 reported stories and seven opinion pieces, we touch on many issues related to mental health, from how Wake Forest University trains its faculty to be on the frontline of mental health care to how international students create community at East Carolina University. 

While there’s still more that must be done, this is a step toward that future. As we navigate the complexities of mental health, we must not lose sight of the individual people behind the statistics — the students, faculty, families and communities affected. Their stories, their struggles and their resilience should serve as a guiding light. We hope that this mental health collaborative project serves as a call to action to create a future where no one suffers in silence. 

Read the Collaborative Mental Health Edition here: 

Mental health resources at UNC

  • Call or text 988 or chat online if you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or need emotional support.
  • Text START to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
  • Students can call UNC Counseling and Psychological Services 24/7 919-966-3658 or drop-in Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • UNC Counseling and Psychological Services provides unlimited brief counseling, academic intervention, support in crises and medication, among other services. 
    • CAPS does not offer long-term therapy, but rather refers students into the community based on their needs and health insurance. 
    • CAPS mental health professionals will see everyone who walks in that day. The department sees an average of 25 students each day, with a record of 63. 
    • UNC’s CAPS also provides mental health support 24/7 via its phone number, 919-966-3658. 
  • Faculty and Staff can contact the University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 24/7 at 877-314-5841
  • Heels Care Network has more mental health resources at 

@emmymrtin |

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Emmy Martin

Emmy Martin is the 2023-24 editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as the DTH's city & state editor and summer managing editor. Emmy is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and information science.