by ABBY LASHBROOK
A 10 page paper. A book report. A biology lab. An organization meeting. An escalating mental breakdown. For students, it’s an endless cycle of nerves and stress that coerce them to say, “I’m fine” and hide behind the mask shielding their pain from view.
On Oct. 29, Drake University’s Rise Up, a Suicide Prevention Week Program, hosted an event titled, “What Mask Are You Hiding,” in the Olmsted Breezeway to shed light on the many ways students try to mask their pain under a facade.
Senior Abbie Gartland, the coordinator of Drake Rise Up, brainstormed ideas about connecting students with mental health awareness during the Halloween season.
“We’re at the end of mental health awareness month, so we wanted to do a Halloween program where people can look at the masks that they wear in their life and what they hide behind them,” Gartland said.
The activity had students write good things about themselves on the front of a mascara mask to acknowledge the positive aspects of their life.
“There are so many good things about people that they don’t realize,” Gartland said. “They need to put good things on the front of their mask, not hide behind the bad things.”
For Drake students especially, Gartland said students struggle to find a balance. They struggle to be happy because they’re so overwhelmed with their studies and all the organizations they feel pressured to join.
“Their value doesn’t come from the things they’re involved in, it comes from the good things about them,” Gartland said.
Sophomore Emily Hanna is involved with Drake Rise Up as a member and helped coordinate the event.
“As college students, we put on this mask that it’s fine and this is how it’s supposed to be,” Hanna said. “When it’s not how it’s supposed to be and if we don’t call it out, we can’t do anything about it.”
Hanna cites the notorious Drake Busy for one of the main motivators for a lack of positive mental health in students’ lives.
“If I always have things to do, I never have time to process how I feel,” Hanna said. “We think mental health is important and we talk about it, but do we practice it ourselves?”
Hannah said herself that she hides behind a mask as well.
“I come off as someone who gets things done and who can do it,” Hanna said. “But people don’t see the struggle that goes behind that.”
Student Body President, Nick Johnston, emphasizes the importance of mental health in student’s lives by taking part in events that promote the well-being of students.
“We really need to take some time to reflect on what it is that makes us great, things were happy about but also what we keep inside,” Johnston said. “We have to find what is holding us back and do some internal reflection.” Johnston understands that mental health is a journey and cannot be accomplished overnight.
Johnston said, “I think we all, including myself, hide some aspects of our life behind a mask.”