It was a blustery day in Hanover, NH yesterday for our display at Dartmouth College but that didn’t stop us from being outside all day with Send Silence Packing. We got a few flurries throughout the day as well as interested students, parents and staff.
Send Silence Packing has been to college campuses with varying numbers of undergraduate college students currently attending. Dartmouth was one of our smaller campuses with about 4, 000 undergraduate students. At smaller campuses we have less traffic but that does not mean that we make less of an impact on the campus and community. The president at Active Minds Dartmouth, Katie, told me how thankful she is that Send Silence Packing was at their campus. She stated that she felt there were a lot of the students on campus that do not address their mental health issues. She also added that this was a great way to open their eyes and see how important it is to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.
Every college that we have been to has left a message that sticks with me no matter the size of the campus, where the display is, or who we talk to. This message is two simple words: thank you. Most every person I have talked to on this tour has said ‘thank you’ and it means so much more than one would initially realize. It means more because whether it is followed by a story or just a smile it means that we are reaching out to someone and taking another step at erasing the stigma that people hold against suicide and mental health.
At the Dartmouth display I was able to talk to a student for a while about the message we are sending and what I am doing as a mental health advocate. He was so interested in what we were doing and the lives that we were affecting that he wanted to know more about Active Minds and my personal reasons for advocating mental health awareness. After I finished one of my sentences, he gave me a hug and said ‘thank you!’
Talking to a lot of different people that are passing by, you sometimes forget the affect that you have on the people that see the display. Every time I hear the words ‘thank you’ I remember how important the work of Active Minds and Send Silence Packing is. They are two words that go much deeper than a polite expression to a stranger. We may not hear every personal story someone has that walks by, but hearing ‘thank you’ is what matters. It reminds me that the hard work of everyone involved with Active Minds and mental health advocates everywhere is changing and saving lives.