Fresh Check Day is the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF). JPF is fully committed to preventing suicide, promoting mental health, creating a message of hope, encouraging help-seeking behavior and self-care. Their goal is to educate young adults about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and other mental health concerns; this message of hope is spread throughout college campuses.
I had the amazing opportunity of not only attending Fresh Check Day, but also participating in it here at Stonehill College. I'm part of Stonehill College's Psychology Society. Being a Psychology major, I was automatically drawn to this club, but I never knew it'd give me the incredible experience of running a table on Fresh Check Day.
Our table focused on the topic of "the elephant in the room," also known as what people don't usually like to share. We discussed how important it is to end the stigma that surrounds talking about "the elephant in the room," or your personal struggle with mental health. You're not alone and we want everyone to know this.
We did more than simply discuss this topic. We did an activity with paper elephants that allowed students to anonymously write their own "elephant in the room."
The workers of the table then proceeded to hang up all of the paper elephants around the booth, showing the different things that people wrote down. You could walk around the booth to see what others wrote and I bet you found a paper elephant that had the same thing written as yours. You don't have to go through anything by yourself.
Our booth also had a positive uplifting vibe to it, thanks to our guest, Ellie the elephant! Ellie definitely gave students a sense of comfort while thinking of what to write.
Along with my experience of personally working a table and having the opportunity to send a message of hope to others while trying to end this stigma, Fresh Check Day is made up of so much more.
Other clubs around campus also participated by having their own tables which surrounded the quad. Each one consisted of their own message and activity. They varied from the dangers of alcohol to steps on how to conquer stress. Free coloring pages were given, diagrams, stress balls, information and much more! While enjoying a stress relieving day, you're also learning at the same time on how to help yourself and others.
What's more stress relieving than petting therapy dogs and cuddling with baby farm animals?
Other students who had the opportunity of working a table at Fresh Check Day only had positives to share as well:
"Everybody has an 'elephant in their room', or something they may go through that they may not feel comfortable discussing with others. But they should realize that they are never alone and that it's OK to talk." - Jessica Infiorati, Stonehill College 2019 (Psychology Society Publicity Coordinator)
"At Fresh Check Day this year, I worked the table for Health At The Hill. We had students write down one reason why they want to stay alive. I feel like it was such a good reminder of all the things we have to look forward to and all the things we have to be grateful for. Sometimes we get caught up in the business of life and stress can overwhelm us, but just taking five minutes to realize all we have that makes life so wonderful can go such a long way." - Alyssa Cristadoro, Stonehill College (Health At The Hill Secretary)
The students who worked the booths are not the only ones who received benefits and happiness from this event. Delighted and pleased comments were heard by everyone who attended:
"Admittedly, I only went to Fresh Check Day for a t-shirt, but I left with so much more. The entire event was extremely relaxing and completing the activities was extremely refreshing because it gave you the opportunity to overall spread happiness for yourself and others. It was a rewarding experience and I feel the event should happen more often on campus because of the benefits associated with it." - Matt Mullen, Stonehill College 2019
"Fresh Check Day is a wonderful opportunity for students to become comfortable with talking about mental health, which is super important on college campuses. The cute animals are just a plus!" - Heather Thibeau, Stonehill College 2019
The goals of Fresh Check Day aren't only said, but they're fully experienced when you attend. Some include:
- Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students
- Reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help
- Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern
- Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress
Only inspiring and encouraging words were said regarding Fresh Check Day and the true meaning behind it. It provided many students with information about resources, services, stress relief and so much more while having an unforgettable time!