Fresh Check Day raises awareness for mental health

HEATHER BORLAND — Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. The American College Health Association found that, in the past year, more than 30 percent of college students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.

Whisler Center for Student Wellness and Active Minds, in conjunction with The Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF), is hosting the second annual Fresh Check Day is tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Reese Shakelford Commons.

JPF is a 501(c)3 non profit corporation, located in Hartford, CT. The Porco family began the foundation in 2011 following the death of their son Jordan by suicide. The Mission of The Foundation is to prevent suicide in the college, college entry and high school population.

Fresh Check Day is a celebratory fair-like event that includes interactive expo booths, live music, free food, exciting prizes and giveaways. Capitalizing on the research supported peer-to-peer messaging model, Fresh Check Day utilizes peer groups to staff interactive booths that deliver mental health and resource messaging in a fun and engaging way.

“I am really excited for it because mental health is an issue that I have seen affect my friends and family. It is a lot more common than people realize, even with the movements to end the stigma. The prevalence of anxiety and depression among younger kids needs to be addressed and this is a great way to do it,” said Tait Zeiner ‘20, a psychology major from Boston.

Since the first Fresh Check Day in 2012, over 23,000 young adults have engaged in this suicide prevention event.

“I mean the event speaks for itself- it is a fun time for an important cause. The event should garner a lot of awareness, especially with the expo and booths to get information. Plus there will be therapy dogs there so what is better than that!” said Rachel Weaver ‘20, an environmental studies and art history double major from Nashville.

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. Recently, movements have sprung up to improve mental health care and options for people suffering from mental illness.

“It is important that we speak up on this matter as a lot of people who suffer from mental illness feel they don’t have a voice. We’re here for all people, no matter how big or small you may feel your mental illness is,” said Katie Aucamp ‘20, a communication major from Jupiter, Florida.

This year Whisler has over 15 departments and student organizations participating. There will be food, music, a bounce house, massages, therapy dogs and more.

The event is open to the Denison community. There is national attention on this program and Whislers hopes they are setting a new precedent for engaging suicide prevention programming for college students.

For more information, please visit: www.freshcheckday.com/denison