MWW3From March 28 -31, Auburn University students celebrated Mental Wealth Week, a weeklong schedule of events to shed light on mental health and wellness and the common challenges that college students face every day. The final event of the week, Send Silence Packing, is part of a nationwide effort to draw awareness to suicide among college students. 

Send Silence Packing, sponsored by Active Minds, Inc., is a nationally recognized public exhibition of 1,100 backpacks and personal stories representing the number of students who die by suicide every year. The exhibition began a tour of 11 college campuses, beginning with Auburn University on Thursday, March 31. As part of the exhibition, Auburn also presented a backpack to Active Minds in memoriam of student Justin Weimer, a victim of suicide in fall 2015. 

“Mental health and suicide prevention are important topics to discuss on college campuses because of the impact of stigma surrounding mental health concerns and help-seeking for those concerns,” said Dustin Johnson,  licensed psychologist for Student Counseling Services and adviser for Active Minds Auburn. “Colleges and universities are experiencing increases in the number of students reporting mental health concerns of all levels of acuity.  The number of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide involving college students are slightly increasing nationally.  An increasing number of students have contacted Student Counseling Services to seek counsel on how to help a friend who is experiencing mental health concerns and suicidal thinking.”

MWW2Mental Wealth Week is a student-created event and was organized by the Student Government Association, Active Minds Auburn and Theta Chi. The events were sponsored by Student Counseling Services, Health Promotions and Wellness Services and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In addition to Send Silence Packing, Mental Wealth Week provided a number of events to educate students on the importance of mental health. TED Talk speaker Jo Harvey shared her testimony with students in Langdon Hall on Monday, March 28, and facilitators conducted a Question, Persuade, Refer, or QPR, suicide prevention training for students on Tuesday, March 29. Students were also invited to a Green Dot bystander intervention training to create a violence free culture on campus. 

“If we have a conversation on campus through which there is acknowledgment that mental health concerns exist and affect all of us in a variety of ways, we can eliminate the stigma that prevents people from reaching out to one another for support, including seeking professional help for mental health concerns,” said Johnson. “We can also help students communicate more favorably with each other to prevent and respond to situations in which their friends are stressed, overwhelmed, and struggling.  We hope that for our campus, efforts like Mental Wealth Week and Send Silence Packing help all students believe they are part of the Auburn family, no matter what they are going through.”

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written by Elizabeth Stone

Last modified: 04/15/2016