Student-run non-profit raises awareness for depression and anxiety

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BYU student Todd Hall created the non-profit organization Conquer the Silence to build a bridge between students who suffer from depression and those around them.

The student-run club uses Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to raise awareness for the mental health movement.

Conquer the Silence is a non-profit organization founded by BYU student Todd Hall. (Todd Hall)

Hall has always known he wanted to be involved in a non-profit but believed it was a goal better met later in life. Recently, however, he realized “now is as good of a time as ever to get started.”

For Hall, depression has been a topic that is close to home — he, his mom and some of his sisters have all struggled with depression.

“I realized something needs to be done about this. There are so many people who want to be open but can’t be,” he said.

Hall created the Conquer the Silence movement with the help of the organization’s two co-founders: Jacob Burrell and Shalyn Kent.

Hall said he wanted to emulate the non-profit Fight the New Drug. He said using some of their methods, such as infographics, a website and social media accounts, has allowed Conquer the Silence to grow.

“Our goal is to create a community. Not just a local community, but a worldwide community because this isn’t just a problem here in Provo obviously,” Hall said.

Hall has been in regular contact with a specific follower. Hall said they talk about posts on the page that are particularly helpful or other things the page could post. Hall wants to let people who are dealing with depression or anxiety know that they can use their experiences to help others who are in the same situation.

One of the ways Conquer the Silence reaches out to their audience is through a weekly newsletter that includes a short testimonial, a quote and a goal to strive for during the week.

One of the movement’s recent campaigns is its “30 Days of Gratitude Challenge,” which encourages followers to post responses to daily prompts. The prompts include discussing small things, such as a smell, that followers are grateful for, and emphasizing positivity in their lives. The hope for this campaign is to encourage individuals to reminisce and share things they are grateful for through their responses.

BYU student Kayla Cooper has struggled with depression for most of her life but has found ways to help herself. Cooper thinks the idea of this social media page is a great way to reach out to people and help them in the short-term.

“It’s something you can relate to, something that makes you feel better about your situation,” Cooper said. “It shows (depression) in a positive light that shows it’s not the person who’s choosing to be depressed. It’s just how it is.”

BYU CAPS employee Tasha Bell said she thinks that social media pages like Conquer the Silence are great for raising awareness for mental health causes.

“I think you have to be careful and discerning about some of these (topics),” Bell said. “I think just opening up the conversation letting people know that it’s real, getting it out there, can help a lot.”

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