CWRU gets SMARRTer about mental health

Case Western Reserve University’s Students Meeting about Risk and Responsibility Training (SMARRT) leaders hope to change the way people look at mental illnesses with an awareness campaign beginning Feb. 16.

“If someone was in a car accident, everyone would rush over to ask if they were okay,” said senior SMARRT leader Jordan Genovese. “If someone has mental health issues, I feel like people will just run away.”

Through the power of social media, the campaign will encourage members of the CWRU community to tint their Facebook profile pictures and Instagram pictures to a shade of green, the color of mental health awareness.

The pictures will have personal captions telling the world that they support mental health, followed by the hashtag #CWRUcares. The movement is part of the larger WeCare initiative, which recently expanded to Brown University as well as a number of other nearby schools.

Essentially, those who participate in the campaign are offering a hand to those struggling with mental health issues. Each participant in the campaign will be encouraged to invite more friends to the Facebook event page.

Genovese, the SMARRT Leader who first had the idea for this campaign, got sick of hearing about people’s friends needing mental help and having no one there to help. She hopes the campaign will spread among students, faculty and student organizations.

Initially the campaign was supposed to be widespread, similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised a lot of money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in August. It was later decided that they would first target CWRU to make an impact on the local community.

The SMARRT leaders contacted Greek Life, athletic teams and other student organizations to reach out for this program. They plan to assess how successful the campaign will be by checking how many people participate in the campaign. In addition, they want to check for an increase in the number of appointments made at University Counseling Services for mental health-related issues.

Genovese believes that, with an increase in these numbers, they can take these figures to administration to request an additional counselor.

Jamie Linn, coordinator of Greek Residential Programs and Culture of Care, is the faculty member leading this campaign. However, he is allowing the students to head the project.

“It is my hope that this campaign will help elevate the kind of dialogue we are having on campus, to help educate everyone on mental health, as well as how to be an ally,” said Linn.