When we do the Send Silence Packing display, whether it is on a college campus or not, there are always people that ask why we choose college students as our focus. It is important to remember that mental health is a huge importance at any stage in life. But college is a time of transition, bringing a whole lot of change for young adults. This is the first time that many people are leaving home – which comes with a list of new responsibilities. Not only do they have to learn how to live independently, they have to learn healthy ways of taking care of themselves and a lot of times, nobody tells them how to but expects them to know.
College is seen as the ‘time of your life’ and people always say that you should take advantage of it while you’re still at a university. People are trying new things, making new friends, discovering who they are. This seems like a period where people are always happy and always adventuring. Students are expected to know what they want and how to get it. A lot of times we don’t think to take a step back and make sure we are taking care of ourselves. College is a stressful time for a student that is not struggling with mental health issues, but when something seems off knowing where to turn is extremely important.
While we were at Syracuse, there were a lot of campus tours coming through the display of perspective students. There were campus administrators, professors, and parents that were interested in the display. Some thought it was a great idea, others weren’t such fans. But when we got the chance to explain to speculators, they understood the importance of reaching out to students before they start college. Some parents admitted that they hadn’t thought about the importance of mental health once their child goes to college and that Send Silence Packing was a great opportunity for them to remind their kids to find ways to take care of themselves while they are away from home.
During a conversation with one of the campus administrators, I was asked why I thought doing Send Silence Packing was necessary, especially with student tours coming through. She said that she was hesitant for them to see the display. I replied that her hesitance was one of the reasons for us to be on campus that day. The fact that adults are still choosing not to talk about mental health and are, to an extent, ignoring its importance is the reason we NEED to be on campuses. It is so important for Active Minds chapters to be at colleges and universities all over the United States: to reach out to students and help them to speak up.
It can be hard to deal with mental health issues while going through college because it seems like everyone else doesn’t feel the way you feel. Students are expected to be happy about being in college, and to appreciate that opportunity without complaints. This makes it harder for students to understand that they are not alone in their struggles. But nobody is alone. There are so many resources and friends that you can reach out to. Active Minds is here to teach people how to be a support to others that are having a hard time and to feel comfortable reaching out when they need help.
The Active Minds chapter at Syracuse did an amazing job showing their support for their fellow classmates. They are yet another group of students dedicated to changing the conversation about mental health.