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Support A Belle, Love A Belle week begins at SMC

| Monday, October 6, 2014

WEB_mental health weekSara Shoemake
In order to raise awareness of mental health issues, such as ADD/ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and addiction, Saint Mary’s will host a series of events throughout the week deemed “Support A Belle, Love A Belle (SABLAB).” The week is sponsored by the Saint Mary’s community in collaboration with Notre Dame’s Irish State of Mind week.

Senior and co-chair of the student government association’s (SGA) social concerns committee Chloe Deranek said this year’s theme is hope, a result of the committee’s finding that in most cases of mental health the factor that pushes people toward suicide is feelings of hopelessness. 

Throughout our week, we will be promoting hope with the hashtag #BellesForHope and trying our very best to show each and every Belle that everyone here supports and loves her, and maybe that fact can bring her hope,” Deranek said. “This year’s SABLAB is a little different in that we are trying to branch out more and cover not only mental health, but sexual violence, through collaborations with BAVO [Belles Against Violence Office], and other mental issues like addiction and ADD/ADHD.”

Deranek said the main goals of the week are to spread awareness and statistics about mental health issues, to combat stigmas, to show the students the available resources for mental health and to bring the College’s community together to act as a symbol of support and love.

Kaitlyn Tarullo, a senior and co-chair of SGA’s social concerns committee, said the week kicked off Sunday evening with a movie event called “Sundaes on Sunday,” a common gathering hosted by the Student Activities Board (SAB). Attendees watched “Silver Linings Playbook,” which Tarullo said was an excellent choice in beginning an ongoing conversation about mental health for the rest of the week.

For Monday’s event the SABLAB committee planned glowstick Zumba on the Library Green, an activity where students will wear glow stick necklaces and bracelets as they come together for a healthy, stress-relieving work-out, Tarullo said.

Tuesday’s event is a student panel called “Share Your Story,” where eight students will recall their own present and past struggles with mental health, Deranek said.

“[The student panel] is a very important event to us,” she said. “We really feel that it helps to de-stigmatize mental health by putting a face to the issue, and it also shows girls that they are not alone in their suffering – that things can get better, for support, love and help are always here for them.” 

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., students will gather to decorate paper bag votives in Reignbeaux Lounge, and they will then line the lanterns down The Avenue as they walk to the Grotto for a healing mass.

“The lanterns will be made to represent those who suffer from mental health in college and will be a powerful visual of the loss that can occur,” Deranek said. “The walk to the Grotto will also serve as a sign of the community that we have here supporting our Belles.”

Thursday will include a lecture given by Tom Seeberg, the father of the late Lizzy Seeberg and former Saint Mary’s student, titled “Believe: Giving Witness to Hope,” Tarullo said.

While the student panel holds a special place in my heart, I am extremely excited for Tom Seeberg to speak to our students about his journey after the mental health struggles of his daughter, Lizzy,” Tarullo said. “Lizzy continues to be a large inspiration behind the events of SABLAB and reminds us how real these issues are on college campuses, especially our own.

“As the theme of our week is centered around hope, Mr. Seeberg is a great source of how important hope is in persevering through mental illnesses.”

Deranek agreed, saying she and the rest of the social concerns committee are honored Tom Seeberg accepted their invitation to speak, as he has a powerful message to share with the community.

Other events taking place throughout the week include daily tables set up in the Noble Family Dining Hall during lunch. The tables will list statistics and define the mental health issues of ADD/ADHD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and addiction, Deranek said.

BAVO will also host a lunch discussion about advocation against sexual assault, she said.

“This is important to us because as BAVO says, ‘one is too many,’” Deranek said. “No one should have to cope with sexual assault, and we wholeheartedly support advocation for talking about ways to prevent this as well as what to do in the aftermath. We will specifically focus the discussion on how to recognize that something may have happened to a friend and how to be a source for her.”

Tarullo said the preparation for this week started in June, and her committee members each have personal motives for helping the cause. In collaboration with all the Belles involved and the Notre Dame “Irish State of Mind” events, she said she knows the week will be a great success.

“This week provides many outlets for girls who experience these issues in their own individual way, and I hope this week inspires hope to all who need it most,” Tarullo said.

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About Kelly Konya

Kelly Konya is an English major bred on Catcher in the Rye and Roman cornettos.

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