After our very long drive to Texas, it was time to begin our display at Collin College on Tuesday morning. It was a bit colder than we expected Texas to be, but the sun didn’t wait long to give us great weather for the display. There were several community and campus groups and resources that were available throughout the day, as well as supportive administration, students, and campus employees.
The campus started off the day with speeches from the officers and advisor of Active Minds at Collin College. The president of Collin College, Cary Israel, gave a speech as well as the Mayor of McKinney, TX, Brian Loughmiller. It was a great feeling to know that Active Minds and Send Silence Packing have the support from such important people at the college and in the community. Not only did Israel and Loughmiller take time out of their day to support the cause, they invited other prominent members of campus and the city to see the impact of Send Silence Packing. They both touched on the importance of mental health and what people can do to help erase the stigma associated with mental illness. President Israel stated that “It’s good to remember, to remember [loved ones lost to suicide].” It is important because remembering is a way to help others that are struggling and a way to help survivors that are coping with someone that they have lost.
There were two performances during the display. The first was Jed Harris, a professor of psychology at Collin College. He has written a song for the Love Is Louder program that the Collin College Active Minds chapter participated in, and he is currently working on a song that he wrote for Send Silence Packing. He played his guitar and sang as students interacted with the display, stopping to talk to students that were interested in what was going on. We also had Kassy Levels perform in the afternoon. She is a 16 year old singer/songwriter that has been singing since age 9. Her sister and father are part of her band, and they perform all over Texas. She performed cover songs as well as songs that she had written herself. Having Jed Harris and Kassy Levels as part of the display set a tone as people walked through the back packs. Having music at the display is a reminder of the soothing qualities of a guitar or the way a song can make you feel better when you are having a rough day.
The display also had a visit from Dancing For a Cause, who performed a routine in the afternoon as well. Dancing For a Cause is a student group on campus that comes together to dance as well as volunteer in the community. There were a few professors that brought their class to the display, including an Art Appreciation class that worked on abstract pieces inspired by Send Silence Packing. Active Minds at McKinney was also supported during the display by SOBI- Strategies of Behavioral Intervention, Hope’s Door- a domestic violence advocacy group, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collin County, and COGS- Collin Organized Geek Society.
The day was full of inspirational programming unique to Collin College. Having the support of the campus, the community, and many students that came to interact with Send Silence Packing is an amazing feeling. Talking about suicide and mental health is not always well received, which is why we continue to work hard to break the stigma associated with it. Being in McKinney, Texas showed us proof of entire communities dedicated to changing how people view mental health. And that is a good feeling.