USAC launches ‘All of Us’ mental health awareness campaign
(Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
September 28, 2014, 12:00 am
Devin Murphy felt his self-awareness and self-worth deteriorate at the end of his second year at UCLA.
After losing in the undergraduate student election for the position of a general representative in May 2013, facing hostility from extended family members for being gay and wondering if he would be able to afford to live in Westwood, he turned from his friends and family.
Murphy said he considered committing suicide, and in that moment, chose to call a close confidant for help. In the following weeks, he started to visit UCLA’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
“I was one phone call away from becoming a statistic,” Murphy said.
Now as the Undergraduate Students Association Council president, Murphy wants to use his position to encourage students to discuss the ways mental health affects their daily lives.
Last Sunday, USAC launched a council-wide mental health awareness campaign called “All of Us.”
The campaign originated as a partnership between the USAC Office of the President and the Student Wellness Commission, but now every USAC office plans to contribute to the project, Murphy said.
The campaign aims to connect students with mental health resources and educate them about mental health concerns through UCLA-specific research. It also hopes to implement state-wide policy changes to improve mental health resources on college campuses.
“We are not criticizing (the counseling centers) on campus – we want to advocate and help the overburdened and underfunded (centers),” said Savannah Badalich, USAC Student Wellness commissioner.
The name “All of Us” comes from “Half of Us” campaign created by The Jed Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in New York, that seeks to promote mental health education among college students, Badalich said. She added that she and Murphy wanted to name the campaign to show that all people are potentially affected by mental health. “Half of Us” refers to the statistic from the National Alliance on Mental Illness that says 50 percent of college students have felt extreme stress and have reported feelings of overwhelming anxiety that impede their ability to achieve their academic goals.
USAC officers plan to implement various marketing and outreach tactics, from tabling to potentially making an announcement at Bruin Bash, in order to inform the student body about the campaign, Murphy said.
On Sunday night, the All of Us campaign launched the beta version of its website and its Facebook page. The sites provide educational infographics and links to resources, such as UCLA CAPS, theSanta Monica Rape Treatment Center and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They also give information about mental health-related events on campus that students can attend.
Active Minds, a committee within the Student Wellness Commission, helped develop the website and will put on campaign events throughout the year. Wanda Diep, a co-director of the Active Minds committee, said she hopes the website will help put students in touch with the resources they need.
“The point (of the website) is not to diagnose, but provide a supportive place where (students) can go for help,” said Diep, a fourth-year psychology student.
During first week of fall quarter, Active Minds will help program events for the campaign, including an event called “Speak Your Mind,” in which students will talk about transitions, Diep said. Speakers will discuss their first months of college and how they felt at that time.
Badalich said the All of Us campaign plans to work closely with UCLA CAPS, the Healthy Campus Initiative and student groups such as Synapse and the Creative Minds Project, to increase student participation in the campaign.
Elizabeth Gong-Guy, director of CAPS, said she spoke with Murphy earlier in the summer to discuss how CAPS would be involved in the campaign.
“We are of course invested in students coming together to provide ongoing constant support,” Gong-Guy said.
All of Us will have its own table at the Enormous Activities Fair on Tuesday to inform students about the campaign’s goals. At the table, students will be able to write and sign individual action cards about how they want to address their own mental health issues, Murphy said.
Murphy said the action cards aim to encourage students to reflect on their mental health and challenge them to make personal changes when managing stress and anxiety.
Funding for All of Us, which is estimated to cost about $13,000 over the course of this school year, will come from both student fees and established campus units.
Badalich said the Student Wellness Commission plans to pay for about half the cost of the campaign using funds from its overall budget. She added that other sources of funding may come from the USAC discretionary and contingency funds. UCLA Residential Life will pay for the 10,000 action cards, which will cost about $1,000, Murphy said.
Student leaders are also looking into local, state and national grants to help cover some of the campaign’s cost.
Murphy, who said he still experiences periods of depression, said he hopes the All of Us campaign will encourage others to reach out and check in with one another.
By vocalizing his personal struggles, Murphy said he hopes to help other students express themselves and listen to stories about mental health issues students face on campus.
“This is about sharing stories,” Murphy said. “I hope others will share their stories and help break the stigma around mental health. So let’s talk and address this together.”