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The Chronicle

The Chronicle

The Chronicle

A fresh day to check on mental health

Emmer Saucedo
The Self-Acceptance Mural made by the Pride Alliance.

 On Wednesday, April 25, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) department hosted the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation, Fresh Check Day.

The Jordan Porco Foundation, a non-profit, is named after the son of Ernie and Marisa Porco, who committed suicide during his freshman year of college. Determined to prevent this from happening to other families, they created the nonprofit to spread mental health and suicide awareness. 

The Fresh Check Day event gathers faculty, clubs, and organizations to promote the foundation’s message of mental health awareness through engaging activities and informational booths.

The Student Government Association (SGA) got people moving with their Boost activity, where students danced along with SGA members to the popular video game Just Dance. Their hope is to show students a fun way to do cardio exercises that have been proven to help a person’s mood.

SGA also had an exercise called “Thrive,” where they encouraged students to focus on their strengths and embrace a positive attitude for any challenge that life throws at them. Students wrote some of their hardships on the cup and filled it up with lemonade because when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. 

The Psychology Club held an activity called “Mood Matters,” where participating students decorated masks with unique designs and words of affirmation. The masks they created are supposed to represent what makes that student unique and what kind of person they would like to portray themselves as to others.

Two students participating in SGA’s activity, Boost. Photo by Emmer Saucedo.

The club also held a second booth, where they had students destigmatize phrases that were commonly used. Phrases like “This makes me want to kill myself”’ have negative effects on students. In an effort to make change, they reworded it as “This thing is really kicking my butt,” which still reflects the struggle the student is having without the negative connotation. 

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) held a body positivity booth called “Younique,” where students made their own personalized mirrors with a variety of stickers to decorate with. PTK promoted the importance of developing a healthy body image of oneself by having them post a positive comment for themselves and others to see, as having a negative body image could lead to depression and loss of self-confidence.

The Health and Humanities Club took on another one of the Jordan Porco Foundation’s signature programs called “Nine out of Ten.” The non-profit selects student ambassadors to spread information to help identify someone who may be having suicidal ideations. The name of the program itself was inspired by the statistic that 9 out of 10 college students contemplate suicide.

The club informed students of the warning signs to look out for, like if the person is having sleeping issues, having changes in mood or behavior, or giving away possessions. Though some warning signs may seem normal, it’s always good to ask direct questions and not keep quiet about your concerns.

The Self-Acceptance Mural made by the Pride Alliance. (Emmer Saucedo)

It also emphasized that since “one in ten college students contemplate suicide, that means nine out of ten students have the opportunity to help each one who is struggling.” 

Overseeing the event were the CAPS Director, Dr. Nika Winiarski, and staff therapist and outreach coordinator, Nicole Wuerl. They were mainly responsible for giving the clubs and organizations all the things they needed to get their message of mental health awareness out to the students. The overall event lasted for four hours and had the most student interaction in any event since the start of the semester, making it a success.

When asked why CAPS chose this event, Dr. Winiarski said, “It is to spread awareness of the prevalence of suicide and how we all play an active part in helping our peers remain safe.”

Wuerl said she was “most excited to unify the student body to talk about mental health in a safe, creative way.”  “If we don’t do this exact event, we will do something like it,” said Wuerl when asked if the event would become a yearly tradition.  “That is just as impactful for the students.”

If you, a close friend, a family member, or a classmate are struggling with something, The College of Lake County has CAPS, which provides individual, group, and couples therapies. There is also a suicide and crisis hotline, 988, which provides support to people in a suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress. It is available 24/7, both in English and Spanish.

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