Hope Week supports mental health
RAs in Hope Hall establish week-long convention to help students achieve mental healthiness. | Caroline Sommers/THE CHIMES
Resident advisors of Hope Hall hosted Hope Week, a convention focused on helping students navigate through college anxiety and depression on March 27-31.
Events included spoken word, a TED talk, the film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a panel of mental health professionals, a mid-week pause and stress relieving activities. The lack of awareness and conversation around depression led to the Hope RAs’ desire to establish the first annual Hope Week created to direct students with depression towards support.
“We’re realizing that [poor] mental health really skyrockets for college students,” said Riley Hahn, Hope RA and sophomore communications major. “Hope wanted to take over something we were passionate about and so we’re… trying to spread awareness as much as possible.”
Monday evening began with a spoken word performance by former student Gena Schwimmer, who shared her poems “I Was,” “This is Me” and “Are You.” Schwimmer’s poems depict the depression and anxiety she has experienced. Throughout her oration, Schwimmer exposed the inside of her forearm where a feather pen tattoo, covering scars from former suicide attempts, could be seen.
“I got this tattoo about a year and a half ago for the sole purpose of covering up scars, but not in a sense that they would be there and then they would disappear. It was more to the sense where you could still see them cutting across,” Schwimmer said. “I thought of it as being a reminder that I’m still living even after all of this happened…. It’s about how writing has given me that freedom and how God has given me that gift to use and to help others.”
Empowerment through sharing
In the TED talk showing that followed, comedian and activist Kevin Breel shared how the brain, like any other muscle, is worthy of being noticed when injured and merits no shame. The film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” with the underlying theme of depression, prepared students for Tuesday’s panel.
The panel consisted of specialists well-versed on depression and anxiety. They shared their experiences with depression and offered advice. Panel members included psychiatrist William Herbold, graduate clinical psychology student Trinnin Olsen, psychological assistant Alvarez Grey, vice president for student development André Stephens, professor of psychology and director for the Center for Marriage and Relationships Chris Grace and professor of biblical and theological studies Matt Williams. Students felt empowered by what the professors shared.
Out of the darkness
“I think that it’s helpful even just in the college stage of figuring out what you want to do and realizing that passions for things can come out of dark places in your life,” said Kristin Stone, junior communications major.
Senior communications major Joshua Benton hopes students will apply practical ideas Williams suggested for their daily lives.
“Take life at 75 percent and especially, as they said, 100 percent at Biola is probably more than 100 percent anywhere in life because we’ve got so much,” Benton said.
Hope RAs continue to look forward to raising awareness of depression and anxiety support on campus.
“This is normally a really hard topic to talk about and not always a comfortable one, and I think something that’s not talked about enough,” said Connor Lunde, junior interpersonal communications major. “I think [it] allows space for those who are dealing with it to find resources, how to approach it and, for those who aren’t dealing with it, to know how to handle it with people that they know who are dealing with it.”