The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday May 5th

Pit Talk

Campus groups work to promote mental health

_CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the name of Active Mind and Taylor Swankie's title. The article also stated "people who 'struggle with' mental illness," this has been changed to "experience." The article has been updated to reflect the changes. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error._

As of 2011, more than 50 percent of students reported to experience more than an average amount of stress, according to a "study":http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2012/full-report.pdf by the American Psychological Association. This is one issue discussed last week during the national Mental Health Awareness Week.

UNC was part of the national conversation, as Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, Active Minds, UNC Wordsmiths, NeuroCare and Sexuality and Gender Alliance collaborated to host events ranging from the Rethink Expression Board to artistic expressions of mental health.

The first of these events was a vigil to commemorate those who are struggling and have struggled with mental illnesses.

Taylor Swankie, co-chair of Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, said the event was meant to bring greater awareness and respect to those who are suffering.

“The point is to recognize that this is an issue that we are addressing and it is an issue that deserves respect,” Swankie said.

Along with greater awareness, Preethi Gowrishankar, president of Active Minds, said she hoped the vigil would provide a comfortable, judgement-free environment for individuals to seek help.

“It’s a way to come together, even with the speakers, we are trying to show that you are not alone, they are not alone. It’s a way to be in a supportive environment with people that might be able to relate to what you’re going through or at least be respectful of it.” Gowrishankar said.

One of the roadblocks towards reducing these issues is the negative stigma associated with mental health, Swankie said.

“There is a stigma surrounding mental health because of the way American society values stoicism,” Swankie said.

She said this is more prevalent in college because there is a stigma in admitting that you need support.

“The whole mental awareness week should address that stigma, and our intention is to show that mental illnesses are not something to be ashamed of and addressing your emotional health is actually a sign of strength, not weakness,” she said.

For more information about these campus groups, check out:

www.rethinkunc.wix.com/info

http://www.activeminds.org/

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