Last week, PHE volunteers at Boston University (BU) were involved in facilitating an important event on campus—a mental health fair called Fresh Check Day. “BU PHE became involved in Fresh Check Day after meeting with another group on campus, Project Hope, about wanting to put on a mental health fair for BU Students,” said Allison, a leader of the PHE program at BU. “We felt like we have such a significant presence in the city of Boston, as groups that leave campus and volunteer our time advocating and teaching about mental health, but there is so much we as students at BU wanted to share with our own peers.” While our volunteers spend most of their PHE time teaching in high schools across the greater Boston area, they are also natural leaders in health awareness and advocacy within their own college communities.
PHE hopes to continue being involved in campus events that reduce stigma associated with mental health and connect their peers to health resources they may need. And as Alison mentioned, Fresh Check Day was also a great opportunity to find classmates who might be interested in volunteering with PHE next year: “I know a lot of us that tabled for PHE loved getting to see all the like-minded organizations on campus. On top of that, we got to talk a lot about PHE with students who didn’t know about us, and hopefully they will apply come fall. After such a great experience this year, I hope PHE can be part of BU Fresh Check Day for years to come.”
PHE volunteers are trained to lead our health education program in high schools, which has been found to have a positive effect on mental health. A 2015 comparison study found that high school students in our program had an increased understanding of the warning signs of poor mental health, were more likely to know where they could seek mental health support, and were more likely to exhibit help-seeking behavior like talking to a trusted adult. We are already so proud of our volunteers and their achievements in the classroom, and are equally impressed with their initiative to be leaders among their peers.