Five seniors on campus have started a campaign called “Everybody Knows Somebody.” Through the campaign, Beatrice Mars, Kaleigh Schildhouse, Cayla Slattery, Kylie Sundblad and Renae Vanderlinden hope to raise awareness for mental health on college campuses and also recognize what a good job the Wellness Center at Northwestern has done.
The campaign will feature an event called “Room With a View” at 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10 on the second floor of Ramaker. The goal of the event is to educate students on what it is like to be living with depression on a college campus. Staff from the Wellness Center will be at the event to share with students and to provide free resources.
“This event is a sociodrama, which is a reenactment of a situation or experience that can be shared with groups of people,” Slattery said. “In ‘Room With a View,’ participants will get the opportunity to walk through the stages of someone struggling with depression while at college. Four rooms will be set up, each depicting a stage of depression.”
Along with the event, the group will raise awareness through the NW Social Work Department’s Facebook page and their Instagram account called “NWC Everybody Knows Somebody.” Their posts will feature faculty, staff and students who are willing to stand up and say, “I care about mental health.”
The idea for the campaign came about from an assignment in one of their social work classes.
“We were given the guidelines to organize a community action campaign about a topic that we care deeply about,” Mars said. “And then we were tasked with launching a campaign that holds an activism piece to give the community a chance to respond.”
With the campaign guidelines set, the group partnered together with the shared goal to create conversation, destigmatize mental illness and make getting help a more acceptable idea.
“Mental health awareness is something that can often get overlooked,” Mars said. “We really want to de-stigmatize the need for mental health services and asking for help.”
They also hope to recognize the Wellness Center on campus. The Wellness Center is a valuable and free counseling resource for students to use, but the center sees a need for more counseling services to be offered to students. With busy class schedules and numerous commitments, sometimes it’s hard for students to find a time to visit the wellness center.
The story behind the name of the campaign is simple. Everybody knows somebody struggling with a mental illness.
“The campaign is called Everybody Knows Somebody because, in reality, everybody is somebody or knows somebody that has reached a point in their life that they should reach out for help because of the struggle,” Mars said.
For Mars, the decision to campaign about mental illness was an easy one.
“Personally, I felt a connection to this project because of people that I know that have struggled with being mentally healthy throughout college,” Mars said. “This is for my friends and loved ones and letting them know that it’s OK to seek help.”
Slattery holds the same view.
“I also know people who have struggled with mental illness in college,” Slattery said. “I also have friends and family that struggle with mental illness. I think that in today’s society, seeking out help is looked at as a weakness, when in fact I think it should be looked at as a sign of strength. Through this project we have an opportunity to confront this stigma and hopefully break it down.”
To learn more about counseling services on campus, visit the Wellness Center in the Rowenhorst Student Center.