This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. On my campus (Ithaca College), there are events lined up all week – movies, speakers, displays, etc. to try and help promote it. Weeks like this are such a great thing for multiple reasons, in my opinion.
First of all, it’s probably pretty obvious by now that I am very interested in mental illness and mental health awareness in general. So I think it’s incredibly important that people understand certain disorders, and this is a great way to help with that. You can take this opportunity to not only teach about the disorders themselves, but about how to recognize the symptoms in yourself or in a friend, and how to help somebody else who is struggling. It can also help people who are suffering from the disorder to feel more cared for.
But there are weeks and months throughout the year that are dedicated to all sorts of issues, not only mental health. And as future leaders, I think it is important to recognize these times as opportunities to not only raise awareness, but to build stronger communities and organizations while doing so.
You can help organize and lead programs. If you are the president of an on-campus organization, this is a great way to get involved. All sorts of clubs come together for these purposes. Active Minds isn’t the only club that promotes National Suicide Prevention Week in the fall, and it’s not just Colleges Against Cancer helping out with Breast Cancer Awareness Month every October. Even if you are in Math Club or Culinary Club, I’m sure you can get clever and find a way to work the topic into your interests and help out!
Coming up with programming ideas and executing them can do wonders for the sense of teamwork within your group. It gives everybody a purpose. Consider dividing your group into committees, if it is large enough. And take a look at the different types of “awareness” weeks and months that occur throughout the year in advance. See which ones peak your interest the most, and which are most relevant to your personal pursuits. And then start planning far enough in advance that you can realistically accomplish your goals, without rushing and stressing too much.
Ask yourself any crucial questions in advance, such as
- What topics do you think are most important to raise awareness for?
- What kinds of programs could you come up with?
- Who would be willing to help with your ideas?
- How much time do you need?
- How much funding will you need, and where will it come from?
Once you have your ideas, get to work and see what you can do!
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Allie here.