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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Handwritten notes send a message campus-wide

By Clayton Norlen

Students and faculty might have noticed thousands of handwritten letters scattered around campus this week.

Some have statements like “I can’t believe life is so hard. I’ve tried and tried and tried, but no matter what I do, I feel so overwhelmed by the little things, sometimes the big things. The weight is crushing me.”

The Counseling Center is using the letters to raise awareness about the big and little problems of everyday life that overwhelm students.

The letters were placed around campus to promote the Counseling Center. The notes reflect on pressures such as moving to a new state or dealing with a divorce.

“The idea is that everyone can connect to this, the big things and the little things in life that we all struggle with,” said Lauren Weitzman director of the U’s Counseling Center. “A lot of people hesitate to reach out when they’re in distress. Unfortunately, people think that by seeking help, people will think that they have a mental illness.”

The letters refer students to the center’s Web page, bigthingslittlethings.com, as an online resource to find more information on mental health.

Weitzman said the purpose of the website is to provide people with information on how to address and assess distress in people’s lives. Also online is an anonymous screening for depression, anxiety, alcohol and eating disorders that can provide people with a sense of how they are being affected by these issues.

According to an American College Health Association survey of 50,000 students in 80 colleges and universities, 77 percent of those surveyed reported that they wouldn’t want their friends to know they were seeking help for emotional issues. Nearly half of all college students reported feeling so depressed at some point in time that they have trouble functioning, according to a 2004 survey by the ACHA.

“People are under the impression you only need to see a counselor if you have a mental illness,” said Rob Davies, a counselor for the Counseling Center. “We see people for all sorts of reasons from depression and anxiety to breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend or adjusting to moving into a new state. Society’s understanding more that mental health is a part of your overall health, but unfortunately, there’s still some stigma out there.”

The Counseling Center tells students that feeling overwhelmed or panicked is normal, but if left unaddressed, little and big interruptions of everyday life can lead students to feelings of distress. The intention of the campaign is to build an awareness of emotional stressors that people deal with on a day-to-day basis and the resources that exist on campus to address these issues when they lead to distress, Weitzman said.

“Starting, I thought someone had dropped a personal note,” said Lizzy Totterer, a senior in English and art history, responding to a letter she had found earlier. “After seeing the website at the bottom, I realized this must be a group reaching out on topics more common than people feeling this way would think.”

Some students interpreted the message of the letters distributed by the counseling differently.

“I value the therapy, and I’m in therapy myself, but this just doesn’t seem like the best way to get this message across,” said Thomas Nelson a senior in mass communication. “This campus has enough litter around. These messages lose their genuine feel when you reach the information at the bottom. I just feel bad for whoever had to write out 8,000 of them.”

[email protected]

Jarad Reddekopp

The counseling center is raising awareness about their new web site by leaving anonymous hand-written notes across campus.

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