HAMBURG, NY – Hilbert College hosted its first Fresh Check Day, an event aimed at spreading awareness about mental illness and suicide, earlier this semesyter.
In the years that have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, mental health has become a common topic, and the stigma surrounding mental illness has decreased significantly.
Interim Director of Residence Life Grace Adams organized the institution’s participation this year, and said she hopes that this will become an annual event at Hilbert. Staff and students volunteering helped with setting up tables and booths for students to go around to.
Those in attendance used “passports” to visit each booth in exchange for prizes. Prizes ranged from Hilbert T-shirts to an Amazon firestick. In order to qualify for prizes, students had to visit at least eight of the booths.
At the first table, students took a vow to help others struggling or contemplating suicide while learning about the signs the someone is contemplating suicide. Once they sign the pledge, students continue to eight other booths in Franciscan Hall.
Students were able to write down the things they’re thankful for, write down their insecurities and “trash them,” make their own stress balls, and more.
A crowd favorite was a booth where students wrote down things that make them angry on a piece of paper and then they got to slip on some boxing gloves to make a piece of abstract art.
Once students had the gloves on, they chose two paint colors and the paint was put on their gloves. A volunteer places the paper on the punching bag and the student punches that paper, releasing some of that tension. When students finished, they had the option to keep their paper.
Bert the Hawk stopped by to take photos with students and participants.
Associate Human Services professor, Sharon Sisti, had a booth called “The Elephant in the Room” run primarily by her students. The purpose of this activity is to help students see they are not alone in the feelings that they have or the things that they have experienced in their life.
“The statements on the board are things that people don’t necessarily want to talk about,” Sisti said. “It is easy to feel alone with what you’re going through. This shows students that they are not alone and it validates those feelings.” Adams said she hopes to make this an annual event at Hilbert College.
Help is available. Speak with someone today. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (this number will change to three-digit number 988 in July 2022)