All For 1 campaign aims to destigmatize mental illness

by Barbara Olachea | 10/21/15 7:59pm

“All for 1,” a nationwide campaign recognizing the issue of mental health problems on college campuses, will soon be launched at Dartmouth, Karen Wen ’16, who is involved with the project on campus, said.

Students will be asked to tell their own personal experiences with mental health issues, Wen said, and the anonymous stories will be posted online, among other efforts.

Students at each of the colleges involved have also taken pictures with the All for 1 campaign shirts in iconic locations on campus. Dartmouth’s photo features two students embracing in front of Dartmouth Hall with the words “1 in 4 Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition this year” and “On this campus, who will it be?”

In addition, each campus will write an open letter to their respective college administrators regarding the mental health resources available on campus and how they could be improved.

Boston University student and student leader for the campus’ All for 1 campaign Emily Parks wrote in an email that the purpose of the letter was not to reprimand the institution for not allocating enough resources to improve mental health on campus.

“The goal isn’t to point an accusatory finger at administrators, saying, ‘You’re not doing good enough,’ because that’s not true,” Parks wrote.

She added that universities have greatly improved their mental health resources over the past decade, but she is suggesting ways to improve the current resources available “from the student’s point of view.”

Each university will also hold additional events specific to their campaign. The University of California at Berkeley, for example, will be holding a mental health awareness week.

The program’s tag line — “We are here (school name)” — represents its recognition and support for the inner turmoil many students face in college with the high academic and social standards expected of them, according to the website.

Kathryn DeWitt, a University of Pennsylvania student who cofounded All For 1 and was profiled by the New York Times for her efforts to combat mental illness, said that her work with students around the United States helped create awareness through social media and other outlets.

“Think about how social media influences mental health because we’re in touch with the digital age,” she said. “I know for me it influences my mental health and wellness, but it’s also about what are you on to get your events.”

DeWitt found that at Penn, outreach through online outlets such as Facebook posts for community service events were particularly effective.

She said her personal experience with mental health motivated her to create this program in collaboration with Duke University student Jenna Zhang.

Wen said that she will be in charge of collecting statements from students at Dartmouth. Stories from students on multiple campuses all being shared on one platform is what ties the campaigns at different schools together, she said.

Wen said she joined the effort because she felt the need to spread the message of positivity and awareness to those suffering from mental health disorders.

“I think it’s important to not stay silent on the topic and to show others that there is support and a community in the struggle of the issues surrounding mental health,” she said.

Wen said that the campaign shows that there are still issues regarding mental health that need to be addressed, and she hopes All for 1 can work with other efforts to help destigmatize these issues.