BYU students are not free from mental health issues as seen in this video from BYUSA to promote Mental Health Awareness week. ( Bentley Rawle)
BYU is celebrating Mental Health Awareness week, which continues until April 7. The week has been filled with events meant to inform students and faculty about the mental health problems students may be suffering from and to show students they are not alone.
One of the promotions for the week is a video that featured several students talking about living with mental illness. The video has over 1,000 views and received lots of positive feedback.
BYU psychology student Hunter Gibson is a volunteer over social media for Mental Health Awareness week and reached out to friends that owned a production company to make the video.
“We had come up with the idea that we wanted to share stories,” Gibson said. “We thought it would be really cool to highlight different students’ experiences of mental health.”
Gibson thought the video was going to be several 10 second clips but the content shared was so powerful her team decided to put it all together in one video.
“I didn’t know how it would go. I thought people would like it but we have had a lot of positive response on Facebook,” Gibson said. “I’ve been really happy with the response and some people have left thoughtful messages about they about the video.”
Gibson also worked on the Instagram posts published by the BYUSA account. The account showcases several other students who live with mental health problems. She said she hopes this campaign will help eliminate the negative stigma attached to mental health.
“We aren’t meant to be suffering and aren’t meant to go through things alone, so I just think it’s so important to get help and care about yourself enough to do that,” Gibson said.
She also said it’s important to reach out, not only to professionals, but to friends and family as well. She and those working on the campaign believe having a supportive community that understands mental health can help heal and make positive things happen.
BYU sophomore Benny Cardullo is featured in the video and has lived his entire life with depression. His involvement in the video actually helped him during a difficult week and he was shocked when he realized he’d be the the first face seen before the video begins.
“I used to feel like it was a secret, like I didn’t want everyone to know because if people knew, it became real,” Cardullo said. “But now it’s a part of me and I do love every part of myself and so I’m happy I can be open with it.”
Cardullo said the video has been an overall good experience and he thinks the positive feedback will allow more people to be open. He said more people need to be able to acknowledge what they are struggling with.
“I think of the story of Moses and the brazen serpent,” Cardullo said. “I think it is so interesting how God said to heal the Israelites from the bites of the fiery serpents, make a fiery serpent, put it on a pole and if they looked to it they will be healed.”
Cardullo said acknowledging problems is how they can be healed. He also said that only by being open to the reality of the afflictions that people are suffering from can true healing occur.
BYU football’s Tanner Mangum released a post on social media earlier this week in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness week about his struggles with depression and anxiety. He said he received a lot of love in response and it was empowering and strengthening for him. Mangum said he thinks more people need to speak out about mental illness.
“I think that it’s important for everyone to know that by showing some vulnerability and showing our humanity so to speak, people will rally around you and people love you and support you and that makes you feel good,” Mangum said.
Mangum also said people might be afraid to speak out about these issues in fear of being judged but he said he believes if they come forward, they will be met with a similar response of love.
Jayne Edwards, BYUSA executive director over all communication campaigns, helped put on the events such as the mental health booth out on campus, several forums that took place throughout the week and a blog where students will post. She said BYUSA had three objectives for this week’s mental health events.
“One (objective) was to raise awareness to mental health in general,” Edwards said. “We felt there was a lack of understanding across campus.”
Edwards said the second objective is to break the stigma regarding conversations about mental health and the third is to make people aware of the resources available to them here on campus. She hopes people with mental health problems will be inspired by others during this time.
“It’s been really inspiring to see people open up and take this as an opportunity to be vulnerable and share their stories, to raise awareness,” Edwards said. “And hopefully be a voice of comfort or a voice of encouragement for other people that are struggling with the same thing they are.”
Students can learn more about mental health and the resources available on the BYU Counseling and Psychological Services website.