As we continue our seven-week journey, it was off to the heart of the Midwest to take the pulse of the great state of Iowa. Our first display took place at the University of Iowa at their historic Pentacrest. Active Minds chapter leader, Sammy Stoll, bloomed brighter than a prairie rose, as her petals of love were sprinkled all around campus. This windy day proved to be no match for our Hawkeye stigma fighters, who spread their wings to share mental health resources, and promote their upcoming “Fresh Check” day. While the exhibit was threatened by rain, the onsite Plinko game, educating students about great ways to combat stress, provided prizes that came in handy on this day. With a stress ball in hand, we squeezed our way through the clouds, finally seeing some brief sunlight upon the glorious “UI” backpack design.
The pride of the Hawkeye student body is second to none, but it was a different creature that fluttered into my mind as the day flew by. The Xi Chapter of Delta Phi Lambda created a “Semicolon Butterfly,” which combines the well-known semicolon with their sorority’s national animal to show support for mental health awareness. It’s been printed on flyers, stickers, buttons, and even temporary tattoos to be given out at the numerous events they hold around campus. Coincidently, this wasn’t the only time the prestigious butterfly made an appearance. We learned about a chapter meeting involving an art therapist who made students aware of “The Butterfly Project,” which is aimed to help those struggling with self-harm. The goal is to let the butterfly you draw on yourself fade naturally, meaning it has lived and flown away. It can be helpful to name your butterfly after a close friend, or family member, as a reminder of the support and love they hold for you.
If you are ever in need of extra assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line by texting “BRAVE” to 741741. Crisis counselors are available 24/7, and are trained to help bring you from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. Reaching out for help is a phenomenal sign of strength, and I would encourage anyone to use this amazing resource when additional support is needed.
Our second stop of the week was just a quick trek up the road at the University of Northern Iowa, located in Cedar Falls. This chapter was beaming with purple Panther pride, as they leaped around Maucker Union with the help of their amazing UNI counseling center, led by Brian Nissen. This Send Silence Packing display site was the place to be on campus, with many other student and wellness organizations joining in the fight against mental health stigma.
With so much going on during this busy day, it was Michelle, from the counseling center, who became the purple putty that held this entire event together. Her selfless nature for wanting to help others was quickly apparent, and I wish I could have granted her UNI’s Lux Service Award for burning brightly through this ten-hour day. She also opened up about a paper she wrote regarding “fomo” (fear of missing out), and its connection to social media. Michelle remembers scrolling through online posts and seeing everyone having the time of their lives, while she was stuck studying during every waking moment of her day. She finally realized that many times, social media is just a perceived image for how people want others to see them. It’s a constant highlight reel that hardly depicts the realities of a young student growing up. For every smile, party, and group selfie, there are also tears, fears, and moments of deep despair that you will never see. Navigating the world of social media is just another layer of misconception and deceit towards others in a roundabout game of popularity and false imagery. The only person you need to compare yourself to, is you. We all have different goals, dreams, and desires in life, and as long as you’re taking small steps every day, then you’re winning in my book. Of course, we all like to look pretty, or handsome in pictures, but please remember that true beauty comes from within. If people don’t accept you from the outside, they definitely don’t deserve to see what makes you special on the inside. Remember to surround yourself with positive, encouraging people, and never let them stray away, as they are harder to find than you think.