As October rapidly approaches, signaling the onset of midterms, this is the time when students often feel the most stress, making it necessary for them to find an appropriate outlet in which to alleviate their worries. On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Fairfield will host its third annual Fresh Check Day. The event, which takes place from 4-7 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room, brings awareness to mental health resources on campus and coping mechanisms, an ideal event for this time in the semester.
Fresh Check Day is a touring event created by the Jordan Matthew Porco Memorial Foundation, encouraging peer-to-peer dialogue on mental health and suicide prevention. The event came to Fairfield through Counseling and Psychological Services after the death of Julia Ryder Sill ‘13 in 2011. “Fresh Check Day is a celebratory fair-like event that includes interactive expo booths, live music, free food, exciting prizes and giveaways,” said Colleen Wilson, assistant director of student programs in the Office of Student Engagement. “Each club or organization will have their own booth that is focused around doing activities to promote empowerment, positivity, suicide and bystander awareness, as well as letting students know about the mental health resources on our campus.”
The event is a collaboration between various university departments, such as Student Engagement, Residence Life, Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Health Services. Various student groups on campus are participating in Fresh Check Day, including Wounded Warrior Project, the Department of Public Safety, Inter Residence Hall Association and Psychology Club. According to Wilson, the involved organizations were asked to participate through email. WVOF, The Lionfish and The Story Unfolds Band will be providing entertainment throughout the event. Super Duper Weenie and Mister Softee food trucks will be also be present throughout the event.
Wilson sees the event as a way to break the taboo about mental health on campus.
“Fresh Check Day is important for the student body because it creates an approachable atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage in dialogue about mental health,” Wilson said. “Fresh Check Day helps to build a bridge between students and the mental health resources and programs that exist on campus, in the community and on a national level.”
Junior Karyn Ryan, a Fresh Check Day volunteer, attributes the event’s success to how the topics are presented. “Fresh Check Day really resonates with people because there are so many great messages but they are not given lecture style. Participants are able to check out different areas and learn in an interactive environment,” she said.
As a resident assistant, Ryan believes that dialogue is the most important way for students to understand depression and mental health.
“I think that a lot of times people think that if they don’t talk about how they are feeling, the feelings will go away, she said. “It’s important that we keep having these types of events to end the stigma [surrounding mental health issues.]”
All Fairfield students are encouraged to attend and freshmen will receive Thrive FYE credit. Each attendee will receive a Fresh Check passport to use to check into every booth at the event and can enter to win prizes including tickets to Phantom of the Opera and the Tree Lighting Ceremony in NYC, a plasma TV and Fairfield clothing.
Wilson also believes that the peer-to-peer element of the event is what makes Fresh Check Day as effective as it is.
“It allows for students to see their peers that may also be struggling with depression or suicide or a whole host of health issues and realize that they are not alone. Mental health shouldn’t be something that students are scared of or apprehensive about,” she said.