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Mental illness awareness week begins at SMC

| Monday, September 5, 2016

Support a Belle, Love a Belle (SABLAB) kicks off Monday at Saint Mary’s, beginning a week of events dedicated to educating students about and offering support for mental illnesses.

The Student Government Association Committee of Social Concerns chair Emma Lewis said this week centered around the idea of students helping their fellow classmates face the challenges that come with being diagnosed with a mental illness.

“It’s about overcoming the stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness,” Lewis said.

SABLAB week will open up with a student-led panel of “Brave Belles.” Students participating in the panel will speak about their experiences with mental illness.

On Wednesday, the Committee of Social Concerns will host “Positivi-tea,” where students can enjoy tea, cookies and snacks with their peers.

Friday is “Playtime with Puppies,” with therapy dogs from The Humane Society coming to Library Green. There will also be a stress relief gift basket raffle at 5 p.m. in the SMC Student Center atrium. Students who attended all events will receive tickets in order to be entered to win, and all proceeds from the raffle will go to the To Write Love On Her Arms Foundation.

Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day and the Le Mans bell tower on campus will be lit up green in support of suicide prevention efforts.

The week will conclude Sunday evening with “Sundaes on Sunday.” Students are invited to grab an ice cream sundae from 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m in Vander Vennet Theater.

Dakota Hartz, a member of the Committee of Social Concerns, said she is excited for the week’s events as it is important to raise awareness about mental illness, especially with its prevalence among college students.

“When you are suffering from a mental illness, talking to someone who understand you is so important,” Hartz said. “This week is about getting support from those who understand, rather than being simply told that it’s okay.”

Lewis said she is confident that this week will help the Saint Mary’s community grow stronger together.

“We hope that during this week, we’ll be able to increase awareness about how these illnesses impact our community and how everyone can be a part of breaking down the stigmas and stereotypes that make living with these illnesses so much more difficult,” Lewis said.

Lewis said she is happy that these events provide opportunities for students to ask questions and generate conversations about the mental illnesses that are affecting their fellow classmates.

“I genuinely hope that this week can, even in some small way, positively impact the lives of students,” Lewis said.

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