Contributing to Oklahoma Christian University’s collection of mental health-focused programs is Eagle Public Relations’ “It’s OK to Not be OK” campaign for mental health awareness.
Eagle PR is currently working on “It’s OK to Not be OK,” an initiative promoting the nonprofit Campaign to Change Direction. Senior Kaitlin Allen said the objective of the campaign is to educate college students of the five signs of emotional suffering. Throughout the campaign, she had the chance to learn more about emotional suffering.
“Before the campaign, I knew what the outcomes of long-term, emotional suffering looked like, but I didn’t realize how small things, like personality change, are the starting point for mental illness,” Allen said. “This campaign has taught me how important it is for me to think seriously about any of the five signs I may struggle with from time to time.”
Allen also said this campaign is important because of how common mental illness is among college students.
“I also learned how most college students face this at some point, so it really isn’t embarrassing,” Allen said. “There have been a handful of challenges in communicating this idea that the five signs are simple, but I think a lot of students are learning with us that getting help is the best thing you can do.”
The Eagle PR team includes Allen, Aubree Hughes, Christian Franklin, Anna Burrell, and Mandolin Skipworth. In addition, the Assistant Professor of Communications Josh Watson works as the team’s academic advisor.
Hughes said Eagle PR hopes to make a difference on campus by talking about mental health, and the main goal for Eagle PR this semester is to help Oklahoma Christian students understand they are not alone.
“Helping just one person would be more than worth the work,” Hughes said. “The goal is to connect people to the resources they need to overcome their emotional pain. We place so much importance on physical health that emotional health is often overlooked.”
Senior biology student and founder of Eagles Health Initiative Jackson Higginbottom said the “It’s OK to Not be OK” campaign does more than work on combatting the stigma, it works on bringing students together to learn about mental health.
“One in four adults will experience mental illness in a given year,” Higginbottom said. “For someone struggling with mental illness, it takes a lot of courage to seek help. Watch what you say about someone with mental illness because it only perpetuates the stigma and may prevent someone close to you from asking for help.”
Higginbottom said making it a habit to visit a counselor, or visiting Oklahoma Christian’s on-campus counseling center, could be beneficial to maintaining mental health.
“You can combat the stigma by going to the counselor for a checkup,” Higginbottom said. “If students start seeing a counselor for mental health checkups, even when nothing is going on, it will decrease the stigma and anxiety surrounding students going to the counselor for a mental illness.”
The Eagle PR team encourages students and faculty to support the Campaign to Change Direction by taking the personal pledge to learn the five signs of emotional suffering and apply them in their daily life.