College is a stressful time for many students. Forced to juggle work, school, and a social life, while being far away from home is an exhausting task for some. While many are affected by the same challenges, few do anything to raise awareness regarding the issues, and instead struggle in silence. One UT freshman decided she wanted to open the lines of communication to discuss the issues we all face at one point or another in our lives.
Julia Boorse, UT freshman and YouTuber decided to utilize her platform to open the lines of communication regarding mental illness. With over 40,000 subscribers, Boorse moved away from her typical lighthearted prank and challenge videos to address mental health. She announced her project to sell bracelets with the words, “Mental Health Can’t Wait… Start Talking.”
Approximately 26.2 percent of Americans over the age of 18 will suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, according to a 2014 report conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health.
“Since I do have a lot of followers, I was in a good position to offer advice, and offer help. A lot of the followers are younger, who look up to people they watch online,” Boorse said.
Although Boorse revealed she has not personally been affected much by mental health, she admits to have felt low during high school. She noticed people around her were struggling with good mental health, and wanted to do what she could to help. Boorse further commented there is still a large social stigma against the issue, and wanted to do what she could to help to put an end to it, or, at the very least, change people’s perception of how they view those who struggle.
“The campaign is something that is very noble, as mental health issues affect a great number of people, and stress is a part of a good amount of college students everyday lives,” said junior film and media arts major and pledge education chair of Delta Kappa Alpha fraternity (DKA), David Rinere.
Boorse’s first goal in establishing the campaign “Mental Health Can’t Wait” was to raise awareness, the second goal was to raise money. The proceeds she receives from the sale of the bracelets will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
She started with the goal of selling 200 bracelets, sending some home to her friends and family in Pennsylvania to help with her efforts.
“The Mental Health Can’t Wait campaign is something that everyone needs to pay attention to,” said freshman communications major Sam Chubbuck, and member of DKA with Boorse.
Chubbuck said that if people are having trouble, help should always be welcome.
It is so important to have a backbone, and now this campaign is providing the support that people need,” Chubbuck said.
Junior film and media arts major and president of DKA, Alex Woodward describes feeling many emotions after seeing Julia’s campaign. She was disheartened to learn that the statistics were so high, and mad that the number did not shock her.
“I’m glad that Julia is speaking up on this matter because when you’re depressed, you feel like you have no one to talk to so you just don’t talk to anyone,” Woodward said. “You let it build inside of you, and it can end terribly.”
To date, Julia has sold about 130 of the 200 bracelets she initially ordered. She recently made a $252 donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with the proceeds.
“I’d love to see more mental health awareness events on campus,” Boorse said. “Not just on this campus, but in high schools, and other universities as well.”
Many groups on campus exist to promote healthy lifestyle choices on campus. Throughout the year, LiveWell UT hosts events to promote healthy behaviors. Active Minds works to change the conversation regarding mental health. The Health and Wellness Center, and Health Spartans 2020 are always working to find new ways to raise awareness on the importance of mental health, and what resources are available to students on campus. A quick search through the calendar of events, and you can find multiple events such as yoga, meditation, or journaling held in Sykes Chapel, that allow students a break in their day, and time to free their mind of any and all worries they may be carrying.
In an email from Gina Firth, Associate Dean of Wellness, she revealed, “On May 18, 2015, Healthy Spartans 2020 and the Dean of Student’s office are bringing in training from the Campus Connect program to present a six hour training for interested faculty and staff on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.” This program, she says, would allow for these trained individuals to then better educate and assist students.
Boorse suggested that orientation would be a good time to inform students about the services that are available to them on campus.
If you feel like you have been experiencing symptoms of depression, there are therapists available on campus. The wellness center offers students six 45 minute individual therapy sessions per semester at no charge.
If you’re interested in supporting the cause and purchasing a bracelet, Boorse is asking for donations of $3. You can order by emailing her at: Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org
Brianna Kwasnik can be reached at email@example.com