Chalk Out Stigma is an event where students write positive messages about mental health in chalk on the grounds outside of their school. Early this morning, a group of students and I set out to do just that. With two boxes of colored chalk and an hour of time before the start of school, we kneeled on the concrete and started to work.
We covered more of the pavement leading to the school entrance with colorful phrases as students and faculty began arriving in greater numbers. It was then that we noticed just how impactful these seemingly mediocre messages were.
With each footstep they walked past another phrase:
“You are never alone.”
“It gets better.”
“You are worth it.”
For the first time, I saw the real difference we were making in the lives of those close to us. Friends told me how good they felt reading the messages of encouragement. A teacher even told me how impressed he was because nobody had ever done anything like the Chalk Out before at my high school.
But doing a Chalk Out is just one of many things students can do in order to foster mental-health awareness at their schools and in their communities.
The key to creating these events is catering to your target population. For example, during midterms and finals, I organize a Stress Less Week where students learn how to manage stress and are provided with complementary resources. This event works perfectly at my high school, where students study more hours than they sleep during testing periods.
Another type of event you could do is a fundraiser. Typical types of fundraisers include bake sales and benefit concerts, but try adding a fun twist on these fundraisers to make them mental health-related. Fundraisers are great because they benefit both the club that sponsors them and the people who participate in them.
Another tip for spreading awareness is not by doing events, but by promoting mental-health education. Having a speaker give a presentation or creating a curriculum for health teachers to implement are great ways to bring mental-health education to your school.
The key to a successful event is doing what you’re enthusiastic about. If you don’t like these ideas, come up with your own! Have a brainstorming session with other students and faculty who share your interests. The Chalk Out worked at my school because we had enough support and dedication from students to pursue what we were passionate about. Explore what you and your classmates are passionate about—and then do it. It’s totally possible and it’s definitely worth it.