When I was reading through the journal entries of thoughts and comments added at Smith College, I came across one that said “Stopped me in my tracks today. Thank you for bringing awareness.” Another mentioned that reading the stories on the backpacks was just what they needed after a particularly difficult and stressful week leading up to the end of the semester. Send Silence Packing has this wonderful ability to be accessible to anyone whether they are just becoming aware of the issue or if they’re well aware of it and eager to continue spreading the message.
We’ve been lucky to be a part of the team that has brought this program to both coasts and dozens of places in between, and no matter where we go, there’s hundreds of people ready to either begin or continue talking about mental health. For the people just learning about the issue it usually starts with a question like “what’s with all the bags?” There are a lot of times when that same person will end up mentioning a connection they have with the subject after we explain the display.
Mental health is interesting in the sense that it is so ubiquitous—every person has it—but not everyone is comfortable talking about it (yet). Everywhere we go, however, we can see this changing. More and more people are becoming aware that it’s not only okay to be aware of and talk about mental health, but that it’s essential—both for yourself and for those around you. Later in the afternoon I spoke with a visitor that told me she never really knew that it was “ok” to talk about this kind of stuff. After a short conversation she went off to class, only to bring back other friends later in the day so they could see it for themselves. This is just one example of the simple actions we can all take to help continue with this forward momentum.