By Damon Markiewicz

Springfield College annually hosts “Fresh Check Day,” a mental health awareness day that highlights mental health resources and coping strategies in a setting that includes interactive expo booths, free food, entertainment, and exciting prizes and giveaways.

Fresh Check Day helps build a bridge between students and the mental health resources and programs that exist on the campus, in the community, and on a national level. Using a peer-to-peer messaging model, Fresh Check Day utilizes student groups in addition to college/university staff to develop and execute interactive booths that deliver mental health and resource information in a fun and engaging way.

“We know a lot of college students struggle with depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues,” said Springfield College Director of the Counseling Center Brian Krylowicz. “This event encourages students to be aware of the resources that are available on college campuses, such as counseling centers. Springfield College is truly committed to the spirit, mind, and body of our students, and Fresh Check Day is just another example of that commitment.”

Through awareness, education, and innovative programming, Fresh Check Day is reducing stigma around mental health and help-seeking, creating open conversations about the prevalence of suicide and mental health issues in the young adult population, and saving lives.

Some of the goals of this community outreach program are to increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students; reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help; empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern; and increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress. 

Christine Johnston, director of health promotion, believes that this event is helpful to start a conversation about mental health awareness.

“Fresh Check Day is really about mental health on our campus,” said Johnston. “We know that stress, depression, and anxiety are topics that a lot of our students deal with, so it’s really important to talk about those topics, and to do so in a way that doesn’t have any stigmas and in a fun environment.”