Students came together on Wednesday evening for Take Back the Stigma, an initiative encouraging students to pay attention to and discuss mental health issues on campus as part of Wellness Week.
Wellness Week comprises a variety of events aimed at promoting the Stanford community’s wellbeing. Hosted by Stanford Mental Health Outreach (SMHO) and co-sponsored by student groups including Stanford Happiness Collective and Power 2 ACT, Take Back the Stigma began with a rally in White Plaza. Students created signs highlighting mental health issues and encouraging viewers to discuss them openly. Participants then marched silently with their signs to the Black Community Services Center, where attendees had the opportunity to speak out about their own mental health journeys.
Take Back the Stigma is one of a range of panel discussions and campaigns hosted by SMHO throughout the year to encourage students to discuss mental health issues more openly.
SMHO funded Take Back the Stigma by applying for a grant from the national organization Healthy Campus 2020. The format and name of the event were inspired by Take Back the Night, a sexual violence awareness campaign.
Megan McAndrews ’17, co-president of SMHO, noted that, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, most college students themselves are unaware of the statistic.
SHMO believes that Take Back the Stigma will educate Stanford students about the real impacts of mental health issues, especially by providing peer discussion of lived mental health experiences.
“There are very few places on campus where we talk about things like suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, depression or anxiety,” McAndrews said. “That lack [of resources] perpetuates the danger of [mental health issues] and [its] harm to students.”
Contact Caroline Kimmel at ckimmel ‘at’ stanford.edu.