To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to providing help and hope for people struggling with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide. Their vision is to encourage, inform and inspire while also directly investing in treatment and recovery. TWLOHA-BC is affiliated with TWLOHA, Inc., and part of a network of student organizations found on college campuses nationwide through TWLOHA’S University Chapters program. Cassidy Gallegos, LSOE ’16, president of TWLOHA-BC, hopes that the group’s on-campus presence will help facilitate a dialogue surrounding mental health issues and break the stigma associated with mental illness.
“Nationwide, 2 out of 3 people who struggle with depression do not seek help; our goal by existing as a club on campus is to bring light to this kept-in-the-dark statistic. The stigma, or lie that suggests we cannot be honest about the struggles we are going through, causes people to feel isolated, ashamed and alone in their struggles and emotions. We want to make sure everyone understands that this is in fact not the case,” said Gallegos.
When asked about the future of BC’s chapter, Gallegos elaborated on the group’s long-term mission. She wishes to erase the stigma associated with mental health by engaging the student body in healthy conversation about such issues. Conversation ultimately helps foster a sense of community and an honest, supportive environment in which to spread awareness.
In response to the stigmatization of mental health Gallegos said, “We often talk about the difference between the ease at which someone can admit they have a broken ankle versus admit they are struggling with a mental illness. TWLOHA-BC hopes to bring education and awareness to this issue so that students don’t feel the stigma of mental illness any more than they would a physical illness, and so that we are aware of how to listen and respond when those in our community admit they are struggling.” BC’s chapter also works closely with University Counseling Services to provide information about the resources offered on campus.
This Thursday at 7 pm in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room TWLOHA-BC will be hosting a Hope ‘N Mic Night, an evening dedicated to honest conversation about mental health through music, dialogue and spoken word. There will be 13 performers, each creatively sharing their own personal story, with the night’s theme centered on hope, community and healing. While the event is free, donations will be accepted with 75% of the proceeds going back to the TWLOHA headquarters in an effort to help continue funding treatment and recovery programs.
Gallegos said of the event, “We believe everyone has a story, and every story is important and worthy of being shared.” This sentiment embodies the spirit of Hope ‘N Mic Night, an evening that aims to celebrate individuality and the value of life. Erasing the taboo regarding mental illness issues is instrumental to creating a place of solidarity where any individual can feel that their story can be shared without shame or judgment. By erasing the negativity that shrouds mental health issues like depression, students can know they aren’t alone in their struggles.
To get involved or become a member of TWLOHA-BC, contact the organization at [email protected] or find them on Facebook. There will also be executive board elections in April for the 2014-2015 school year and students who are interested in becoming more involved in the club are encouraged to apply.