Wake Forest celebrates Mental Health Week


Katie Fox

Green, blue, purple and orange flags line Tribble Courtyard in lieu of Mental Health Week, representing the various mental health issues faced by those living in the United States.

Emily Toro, News Editor

Mental Health Week kicked off this Monday with the theme “Love Yourself”, embracing the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Led by Wake Forest Student Government, Mental Health Week encompasses a series of large and small events through Feb. 18, which, per Student Body President Ally Swartzberg will “promote a normalization of mental health as a part of our overall health and wellbeing and a destigmatization of mental health concerns with the idea that they are part of who we are.”

Sophomore Jackson Buttler, co-chair for Campus Life Committee — along with junior Tonia Christou — orchestrated the planning of the week. 

Buttler explained the connection between Mental Health Week and Valentine’s Day. 

“While of course many use Valentine’s Day to express their love and affection for those they care about, it’s impossible to love anyone else if you don’t love yourself first,” Buttler said. “Our goal was to exhibit the various ways in which we could help students love themselves, particularly by highlighting the connections between mental and physical health and wellbeing.” 

Buttler also explained how offices around campus helped to organize 12 events throughout the week. 

“Mental health is a topic that is very significant to both Tonia and me, so we are both incredibly honored to have been given the opportunity to work on this meaningful week,” Buttler said. “This year, we were able to cultivate a record number of collaborations with offices across campus, including the athletic department, the CARE Team, CLASS, the Counseling Center, the THRIVE Office, the Wellbeing Center, the Office of the Chaplain, Student Health, the Office of Wellbeing and the LGBTQ Center,” Buttler said. “With their help, we were able to plan 12 events spanning the entirety of the week.” 

Swartzberg continued to describe the motivation behind hosting Mental Health Week events. 

Swartzberg continued to detail the variety of events SG will offer in an attempt to adhere to everyone’s mental health needs. 

“There’s also goat yoga at some point in the week because we know that interacting with animals oftentimes has a really positive effect on mental health, and we also know physical activity can do that too, so we combined those two,” Swartzberg said. 

She also noted the Mental Health Week panel, held on Feb. 15, that she moderated. The panel consists of three prominent individuals on campus: former Editor-in-Chief of the Old Gold & Black Alexandra Karlinchak, Wake Forest football quarterback Sam Hartman and co-founder of Noveltor Mental Health Software Roscoe Bell. 

“The Mental Health Week panel is the biggest event of the week, featuring students who have been very vocal about the importance of mental health and about their own experiences with mental health,” Swartzberg said. “Many of them are known figures on campus and will be able to speak to what it is like to be a Wake Forest student who is kind of thriving at Wake Forest but also has these considerations.”

Swartzberg further noted the importance of the panel and the variety of speakers. 

“For me, the importance of the panel is highlighting that there are a variety of students with a variety of different passions who are successful in the pursuit of those passions but still struggle with these things day to day, and I want to normalize that for underclassmen because it wasn’t as normalized when I was a first-year student,” Swartzberg said. “Hopefully it’s getting better, but there’s still a lot of work to be done on that.”

As a person in an especially significant leadership role, Swartzberg often feels that mental health concerns are overlooked. 

“You don’t have to be the student body president to have those moments that are hard,” she said. “I personally have anxiety that I go to counseling for, and that’s not a thing anyone sees when they see the president. I get up. I give a speech. I put on a smile. I wear a suit, and I look put together. Just because people don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.” 

She continued: “I want people to know that it’s normal, and it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve what you want to. You also need to care for yourself in a specific way if you have a specific mental health concern.”

The Student Government Instagram, @wake_sg, outlines the various events occurring throughout the course of the week, including daily challenges for students. They also continue to post graphics and notes regarding mental health and wellbeing.