Stony Brook University’s Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) successfully hosted its fourth annual Walk of Hope in honor of Suicide Prevention Month in September.
The Walk of Hope was just one of many different month-long initiatives hosted by CPO to raise awareness about mental health as well as to provide students and faculty with the resources to get help.
The spotlight events started with an exhibit, “Send Silence Packing,” where 1,100 backpacks, representing the number of young people who die by suicide annually, were displayed on Staller Steps. This exhibit was in collaboration with Active Minds, a non-profit organization that aims to change the stigma around mental health by raising awareness and starting conversations.
Students were able to read stories about victims while voicing their own support by writing down messages of hope. “I had no idea. This is so powerful. I do not want to feel alone.” and “Thank you for talking about this” were just some of the messages that students expressed as they showed compassion toward victims and families affected by suicide loss.
These spotlight events highlighted other programs CPO offers throughout the academic year to students. These programs include “Let’s Talk” and “Living Through,” initiatives both aimed to provide students resources to connect with a health counselor or a licensed psychologist.
CPO successfully concluded its month-long programs with the fourth annual Walk of Hope that took place at the SAC Plaza. Students all over campus from athletic organizations to peer educators gathered together to march for awareness as well as to send a message of hope to the community. More than 400 students marched across the academic mall holding signs reading “YOU BELONG” or “KEEP MOVING FORWARD” and shouting in unison, “Speak up, reach out, you are not alone!” Concurrently, students from the Southampton campus marched in unison in support of the Walk of Hope.
With more than 2,800 students having participated in the events, CPO was able to successfully conclude its programs with an increase in student engagement. Usage of the non-clinical support spaces such as “Let’s Talk,” where students could drop in and talk with a counselor in a confidential setting, and attendance in drop-in spaces like the “Tea Time Chat with Global Minds” and “Living Through” also proved to be a success as student engagement increased by 400 percent.
CPO Associate Director Danielle Merolla said, “All programming and programs throughout the academic year are consistently identifying that Seawolves are not alone, reaching out is a sign of strength and resilience, and what we do now to take care of our mental wellness will support our success personally and professionally far beyond SBU.”
Students have expressed their gratitude toward these programs along with Stony Brook’s continued dedication to educate and empower their mental health and wellness.
To learn more about programs and resources offered by CPO, go to stonybrook.edu/CPO.