Greek philanthropy aims to spread mental health awareness

Next week, in an effort to raise awareness for mental health, Theta Chi will be holding their annual Mental Health Awareness Week, five days of events designed to raise awareness and raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Cleveland.

Mental Health Awareness Week events will include a table in Nord with green ribbons each day of the week, a “Blackboard” event on Monday where students can draw in chalk on the Spitball statue, an open mic night 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday night in Clark 309 and a Mental Health Fair on Friday from 5:30 p.m.-8p.m. in the Thwing Ballroom. All proceeds of the events will benefit the NAMI of Greater Cleveland.

Mental Health Awareness Week culminates on Friday with the Mental Health Fair, where Theta Chi will be selling t-shirts for five dollars to raise money for NAMI of Greater Cleveland.

Third-year student Zachary Williams, a member of Theta Chi who is assisting with the organization of the week-long series of events, claims that the highlight the week will really be the open mic night on Wednesday.

“The idea of the event is to create a safe space for people to share their stories,” Williams said of the event, which will be held from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in Clark 309.

“It’s heartwarming and uplifting for people who were able to share their stories,” Williams said of last year’s open mic.

Mental Health Awareness Week started in 2013, in Williams’ freshman year.

“My brothers identified a problem,” Williams said. “Mental health struggles were really common, but weren’t being adequately addressed or thought about. No one had really been talking about mental health on campus yet.”

The point of Mental Health Awareness Week was to get people talking about it, to break down some of the stigma surrounding mental illness and to get students who were struggling with mental illness to realize that they weren’t alone.

“People who were depressed, people who were suicidal, were getting the help they needed because they became aware of the resources,” said Williams.

Two undergraduate organizations started after Theta Chi’s first annual Mental Health Awareness Week, as part of the Case Western Reserve University community’s efforts to raise awareness of mental health: CWRU branches of NAMI and Active Minds.

Williams hopes that the effect of this year’s event mirrors that of last year’s.

“I hope to re-spark the conversations of last year,” said Williams. “Many people said that they didn’t realize so many people suffered from mental illness.”

“65 percent of people who drop out do so because of mental health—not because of financial issues, not because of anything else, because they couldn’t handle school—but because of mental health,” he added.