This week at St. Olaf, the Mental and Spiritual Health Awareness House (MASHAH) hosted daily events for Suicide Awareness Week. According to the St. Olaf website, the goal of this house is to:
- Provide a calm environment for students on campus
- De-stigmatize mental illness
- Provide outreach to Northfield High School for community service opportunities surrounding college prep and mental health
From October 25-30, MASHAH hosted a benefit concert, a chapel talk, a Mental Health Q&A panel, free suicide screenings, a moment of silence at the wind chimes and a note station. All events were held on campus or at the honor house, displaying the accessibility of mental health resources in our daily lives. If you weren’t able to attend any of these valuable events, here are some applicable takeaways to raise suicide awareness.
1. You are surrounded by people who want (and are certified) to help you.
Here are a number of resources found on campus, online and via hotline to help you in times of need.
On Campus: Boe House Counseling Center (507) 786-3062
Pastors’ Office: (507) 786-3092
Health Services: (507) 786-3063
Sexual Assault Resource Network: (507) 786-3777
Online: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: save.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
2. You are not the only one who feels this way.
One out of every four college students suffers from some sort of mental illness, including depression. Although your feelings are likely unique and hard to understand or relate to, other students are going their own personal experience with mental illness, too. You are not alone.
3. You do not always have to be positive and cheerful.
Our culture calls for strong individuality and optimism, even when it seems impossible. People say things like, “Just be happy!” “Be grateful for what you do have” or “Smile!” Additionally, when you are quiet, distant or sad for one day, everybody says “What’s wrong?” and insists you cheer up, or they completely avoid you as if sadness is a plague. You do not need to feel guilty for being depressed or feeling hopeless. You do not need to cure yourself just to make your peers feel less uncomfortable. Your mental illness does not make you defective. You are human.