“You matter,” “You are more than worth it,” and “You are loved” are just a few of the messages sprawled across the little green flags planted in Condon Lawn this week.
As a part of Mental Health Month, the University of Oregon Student Mental Health Advocates planted 1,100 flags in the shape of UO’s signature “O” for the second year of Stomp Out the Stigma. Students are encouraged to write on a flag the words they would say to a loved one who was contemplating suicide.
The flags represent the number of suicides that occur on college campuses every year: One flag for every suicide.
According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, issues with mental health often appear in young adults aged 18-24, making college students more at risk.
SMHA’s vice president Abhinav Sahu coordinated the event in hopes of raising awareness of the importance of mental health and breaking the stigma associated with conversations about suicide.
“It’s to get people talking about suicide,” he said. “It’s not an easy topic to talk about. The more we talk about it the more we can solve the issue.”
Sahu explained that while it is extremely beneficial, the formality of professional counseling and treatment can deter those who are struggling from reaching out for health.
With Stomp out the Stigma, as well as SMHA’s other programs throughout the year, they aim to create a comfortable and casual setting for students to discuss mental health and self care.
SMHA also works closely with the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a way to create a free peer support group for students, in addition to SMHA’s weekly Wednesday meetings.
“We just want to raise awareness of mental health,” said Sahu, “and shun the stigmas that come with it.”