Westfield State Holds Second Annual ‘Fresh Check Day’
Westfield State University will hold its second annual “Fresh Check Day” to promote mental health awareness and wellness on Thursday, March 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Ely Campus Center. The health fair event is open to the campus and greater Westfield community and will feature a number of booths with mental health resources sponsored by student organizations in addition to a series of other booths promoting wellness sponsored by outside community organizations.
Fresh Check Day is the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation. Created to honor Porco, who committed suicide in 2011, the foundation is committed to preventing suicide among high school and college students by bringing mental health resources and coping strategies to campuses.
“A key part of preventing suicide and helping those who are suffering is to talk openly about mental health,” said Julia Nedry, outreach counselor and event organizer at Westfield State. “One of the goals of Fresh Check Day is to de-stigmatize mental health and empower students to get help when they need it.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five adults in the country experiences mental illness, but nearly 60 percent of those adults do not receive mental health services or treatment.
Last year, more than 400 students, faculty, and staff participated in the inaugural event. “Students agreed that Fresh Check Day 2016 was fun, uplifting, and engaging,” said Nedry.
New to this year’s event is the “Uplift” booth which reminds students that their self-care habits can impact how they function and feel. Other booths include “BE Yourself” which supports LGBT students and has participants put their fingerprints on a banner to show they’re irreplaceable and “Boost” which focuses on the positive impacts of movement/exercise on wellbeing.
Westfield State has a number of students-run clubs that promote mental health awareness including the newly formed Tell Me About Your Day club (TMAYD) which encourages students to create an open dialogue to discuss their feelings and potentially prevent suicide and other crises.
“We don't always let people in on what's really going on,” said TMAYD President Caroline Koty ’18 of Somerville, Mass. “Forming a supportive larger community within our campus is a great start to fighting the stigma associated with suicide and reducing the risk.”
Participating outside organizations include: the American Red Cross, Lifechoice Donor Services, Tapestry Health Systems, Western MA Recovering Learning Community, and Westfield Yoga Center among others.
The Health Fair is free and open to the public. Fresh Check Day booths and activities are open to students only.