Pink elephant helps to raise awareness, mental illness week
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 01:10
October has begun, and one of the highlights of the multi-campaign month is Mental Illness Awareness Week, running from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12.
Sharon Murphy, a professor at the University of New Hampshire in the social work department, planned many events to spread awareness throughout the week.
The first of these events was a 5K walk in Concord, N.H., on Sunday, Oct. 6. The walk was sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Students enrolled in Murphy’s course, Human Behavior III, joined the approximately 300 other participants in the walk.
Another staple of Mental Illness Awareness Week at UNH is Stiggy, the interactive pink elephant in the Dimond Library. While many students have likely seen Stiggy in past years, this year everyone is encouraged to stop and read the messages written on the elephant.
Stiggy is named to represent the stigma attached to mental illness and represents what may seem like the elephant in the room. Messages written on the elephant encompass many themes, including eating disorders, mental illness and, this year, racism has been prevalent as well.
Next to Stiggy, there is also a bookshelf containing books about mental illness.
“We encourage the UNH community to stop by and browse through them,” Murphy said.
The last event will be held in Theater II of the Memorial Union Building from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. A panel discussion will be held; panelists will include David Cross, PhD., director of the UNH Counseling Center, David Andre and Alyssa Freedman from NAMI-NH’s “In Our Own Voice,” Sgt. Stephen Burke of the Rochester Police Dept., and N.H. State Senator Andrew Hosmer.
Murphy’s students will be providing refreshments, and all are welcome to attend.
In addition to the events organized by Murphy, students should be aware of the services provided on the UNH campus year-round for students dealing with mental illness. UNH Health Services and the UNH Counseling Center work closely to offer students a comfortable place to go for guidance.
Any full-time student can go to the Counseling Center, which is located on the third floor of Smith Hall, for free.
To make an appointment, students can call the center at (603) 862-2090 and schedule an intake appointment.
Once a student’s needs are assessed, he or she will be matched with a therapist and can attend therapy once a week. If he or she finds him or herself in an emergency, emergency hours are available as well. The Counseling Center currently sees 1,200 students a year and urges anyone who needs their services to stop by.