Fresh Check Day reminds us of the importance of mental health

MJ Rivera and Zileni Milupi

With an abundance of fun games and free pizza, CWU’s annual Fresh Check Day served as a reminder of the importance of mental health and the many resources available for students on campus. This year’s event was hosted by the Wellness Center and took place on Feb. 9 in the SURC. 

Fresh Check Day is an initiative created by the Jordan Porco foundation. The mission of the foundation is to prevent suicide, promote mental health and create a message of hope for young adults, according to the Jordan Porco Foundation website.

According to their website, Fresh Check Day is an engaging and uplifting mental health promotion event for college campuses nationwide that features interactive booths, a festive social atmosphere and exciting prizes and giveaways.

Wellness Center perspectives

Jasmine Cottam, health promotion coordinator at the Wellness Center, spoke about why they hosted Fresh Check Day at CWU. 

“College students should know the resources around them and be educated in suicide prevention and mental health resources, and how to find help for themselves and to open up the conversation around suicide and mental health, since it’s so taboo in our culture here in the U.S to not talk about it,” Cottam said.

Cottam said they hope this event allows students to feel it’s okay to talk to their friends about suicide. According to Cottam, resources available at CWU include Student Counseling Services, the Wildcat Care 365 app and support groups available throughout each quarter through these programs.

Michael Wollan, wellness ambassador and peer health educator, had some advice for people who might not think about their mental health at all. 

“It does not have to be diagnosed or a categorized mental illness for someone to experience it,” Wollan said.  “If you are in a place where you don’t think you could be struggling with mental health and feel things are balanced, that’s fine. However, that doesn’t mean it is unimportant. I believe everyone should be conscious about their mental health the same way they would be conscious about their physical health.”

Wollan said one thing he’d want students to take away from the event is for people to give love to their friends and check on them. 

“All it takes is one thing for someone to check in and ask if something is going on, it could make a difference,” Wollan said.

Tabler and volunteer perspectives

One of the clubs that had a table at the event was the CWU Happiness Club. Their goal was to help students learn more in-depth about self-care and mental health. The president of the club, sophomore Grace Zacher, believes that happiness is a give and take. 

“You need to be sad to be happy. You can’t always be happy,” Zacher said.

The CWU Happiness Club has been running for several years, and their goal is to create a support system for students. The club is a place for students to make friends, do activities together and discuss mental health. 

“How do we expect to be happy if we’re not checking in with ourselves and acknowledging the times that we’re not happy?” Zacher said.

Zacher said that self care can look different for everybody.

“For a while when I thought of self care, I just thought of taking a bath and doing a face mask and that is self care, but it can look different for everyone,” Zacher said.

Zacher’s advice for CWU students is to spend time intentionally focusing on their interests outside of school. She said that it is important to do fun activities, spend time with friends and get involved with campus activities. Happiness Club meets Thursdays at noon in SURC 135.

Sara Stubbs, case manager in the office of student success, had a table called 9/10, an organization named after the statistic showing that 1/10 college students have had suicidal thoughts.

“We want the other 9/10 students to feel comfortable checking in with friends, fellow students or workers about their mental health, recognizing warning signs, and particularly making it comfortable to ask them the question, ‘are you thinking about suicide?’” Stubbs said.

One might think that mentioning suicide would give a struggling peer the idea, but the opposite may be true, according to Stubbs. 

“It can give somebody who’s experiencing mental health challenges and thinking about suicide a sense of belonging, and it really lets them know that you care about them,” Stubbs said.

She said it is important for students to look out for each other, and that there are signs that indicate someone could use extra support from friends.

She said some of those signs are: “engaging in risky behavior that isn’t normal for them, if their sleep habits or their hygiene changes, and if they’re not showing up to things that they really cared about in the past.”

Senior Mark Sechler who volunteered for Fresh Check Day said he hopes students will learn to be more in-touch with their emotions.

“It’s alright to just actually say, ‘Hey, I care about myself. I need to care about myself,'” Sechler said.

He said he has tried to bottle his feelings up in the past, but that it is ultimately not a healthy way to live.

“There are better ways and when you find those ways, you will feel immensely better,” Sechler said.

Sechler’s own tactics include keeping in touch with friends, playing games and painting. He said that reminding those you love that you love them is also a great way to be happier.

Dustin Jackson, student ambassador tabling for the Transfer Center, explained how there were games and activities that showed students different ways to deal with stress. 

“It’s supposed to be a way that’s not overly personal, it’s something that can be social so it allows people to connect through that,” Jackson said. “My table is all about things that you identify as but not a stereotype.” 

Jackson gave an example of a student who wrote ‘I am neurodivergent but not lazy.’ Other students who share the same identity might see that and feel seen or not alone.  

Sophomore and public relations major Brian Valencia shared his thoughts about the event. 

“This is a great opportunity for a lot of students to learn,” Valencia said. “There’s tons of people that are afraid to reach out because they think there’s some sort of stigma and this event is a great way for students to reach out and open up.”

Junior and marketing major Ethan Cook gave his thoughts on mental health and how the event helped students. 

“I have roommates and friends who struggle with their mental health, so getting out there and talking about it is really important,” Cook said. “Today, I think everyone is doing a great job in spreading positivity and making sure everyone is aware of it.”


Article has been adjusted to update pronouns.