Community organizations recognize National Suicide Prevention Month

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Kelsey Pacetti, president of the Active Minds chapter at UW-Whitewater receives the Adman Carlson Active Minds Student Leader of the Year Award.

Kylie Jacobs, Managing Editor

September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month. All month long, many mental health advocates, as well as different organizations, allies, and community members promote suicide awareness prevention. Here in Whitewater, both the college and community have established safe places for community members and students to get involved, volunteer and help improve their mental health through different events throughout September and October. 

The Yellow Tulip Project: Hope’s Garden is a collaborative effort to smash the stigma associate with mental illness and the hesitancy to discuss it. Various community groups are coming together for the project including Seeds of Hope, Working for Whitewater’s Wellness, Whitewater Unified School District, the city of Whitewater, Active Minds and UW-W Sustainability.  

Jamie Stilling-Step, founder of Seeds of Hope believes that through this horticulture project, members of the community will be able to realize that they are all needed and that they deserve the same type of life they give to the flowers they’ll be growing.

“One of the most important things needed to grow a garden is nurture and love,” Stilling-Step said, “And it’s the same with us. We all need to have a purpose. We all want to be needed and it’s important to be able to talk about that – to have those conversations.”

The Hope Garden planting of tulips will take place Oct. 9 – 10 with its mission is to bring the community together to instill hope and happiness with each other. Planting Oct. 10 will take place form 12-4 p.m., and from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 11. To sign up to be a part of planting, visit https://activemindswhitewater.weebly.com/the-yellow-tulip-project.html for more information. 

Kelsey Pacetti, president of UW-Whitewater’s chapter of Active Minds has worked with her fellow group members to address mental health issues, resulting in what’s known as the Unmasked app. The app is monitored by trained students, and they also provide an extensive list of mental health resources to users as well. 

This is our biggest way to get students safe space to express themselves during the pandemic and in the middle of such a virtual world,” said Pacetti. “The Unmasked Project is an anonymous, mental health social media mobile application for college students, by college students. On the app, students can take off their masks and share what’s really going on.”

In an Active Minds survey of over 3,000 college and high school students, 20 percent said their mental health had worsened from the effects of COVID-19. In terms of resource needs, 55 percent said they didn’t know where to go for mental health help.

“There are many dimensions of wellness, with each one being just as equally as important. When one of those is out of whack, it affects our overall well being – as everything is connected. Being mentally healthy helps us take care of ourselves. It helps us be happy, move forward, be kind and connect with others,” said Traci Wilson, community health program coordinator for Whitewater Wellness (W3). 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. The University Health and Counseling Services at UW-Whitewater also provides counseling for students, and appointments can be made via webex, phone or in person at 262-472-1305.

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