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The U.S. Surgeon General Is Doing A College Tour That Aims To Combat Loneliness In Students

As a college student, you’re faced with many challenges. From midterms to meeting new people, college can be an extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing experience. And while you’re expected to balance your grades with your social life, it’s common to let one of the most important things in your life move to the backburner: your mental health. That’s where the Surgeon General of the United States’ upcoming college tour comes in.

Mental health struggles are extremely prevalent in college folks, and the rates of depression and anxiety disorders are higher among Gen Z than any other generation. Knowing the challenges that mental health can pose on the university experience, the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is launching the national We Are Made to Connect college tour in an effort to aid the feelings of loneliness and isolation that college folks face. The tour is part of President Joe Biden’s Unity Agenda, which aims to transform how mental health is understood, accessed, and treated in the United States.

From Oct. 25 through the month of November, Dr. Murthy will travel to different universities across the county to offer an interactive experience created to help college students connect with each other through gratitude and grounding exercises. Namely, Dr. Murthy will be introducing the 5-for-5 Connection Challenge, which challenges students to take five actions for five days that express gratitude, offer support, or ask for help from people in their lives. Through this challenge, the Surgeon General hopes to amplify the importance of social connection between college folks.

Additionally, the We Are Made To Connect tour will feature M.T.V. and Active Minds’ Acknowledge, Support, and Keep-InTouch (A.S.K.) multimedia campaign. This national initiative seeks to encourage peer support and promote conversation by teaching folks about asking questions that better support their friends and loved ones.

This all comes after Dr. Murthy released the Surgeon General’s Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in May 2023, which outlined the all-too-common mental and physical health risks that social disconnection poses, and the growing loneliness problem among college-aged students. 

“I am thrilled to embark on the We Are Made to Connect tour and speak to young people about healthy relationships and their impact on mental health. Loneliness is a widespread national health problem — one that impacts young Americans at surprisingly high rates,” said Murthy in a press release. “Just like exercise and nutrition, our relationships with one another are fundamental components of our overall health and well-being. The tour and connection challenge will help students learn how to better incorporate moments of connection into their daily lives.”

The current stops on the We Are Made To Connect tour are as follows:

  • Oct. 25: Duke University (Durham, NC) 
  • Oct. 26: University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Nov. 3: University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  • Nov. 8: University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
  • TBD: Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
  • Nov. 27: NYC students (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Nov. 28: Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  • TBD: Hampton University (Hampton, VA)

Dr. Murthy will also be connecting with staff members at each campus and engaging them in conversations about mental health and wellbeing. So, if your campus is on the list, consider attending the event to learn more about how to not only take care of yourself, but your peers, too.

julianna (she/her) is an associate editor at her campus where she oversees the wellness vertical and all things sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and gen-z. during her undergraduate career at chapman university, julianna's work appeared in as if magazine and taylor magazine. additionally, her work as a screenwriter has been recognized and awarded at film festivals worldwide. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.