Mental health carries an incredible amount of stigma. Too often, people – especially young people – dealing with depression, anxiety, or social disorders elect not to seek help because they fear being judged, or they simply don’t know the resources exist. Those who do seek help are often handed a lifelong prescription, leaving very little room for empowerment to get to the root of their condition. This creates a cycle where individuals feel more and more ostracized and leads to increased negative affect and more serious consequences.
Think of the typical college campus: rife with stress, pressure, and expectation. This can have a huge toll on even the most stable of young people; for someone dealing with a mental health issue, this can be immensely overwhelming. Given the availability of mental health resources, how can it be that suicide remains the second leading cause of death on campuses in America? That’s over a thousand deaths each year.
A light needs to be shed on this important – and very prominent – issue, so that young adults feel empowered to seek the help they need to reach their fullest potential.
Thanks to an incredible awareness initiative that has been making its way around the East Coast, a conversation has been started to tackle precisely this. Project Uplift founder Zach Valenti created the initiative to break down the stigma surrounding mental health following his own struggles with Attention Deficit Disorder since childhood. “There weren’t the resources available that there are today”, he says. “ I was on 50mg of Ritalin a day as a 14-year-old and had no access to information about how exercise, nutrition, or mindfulness could have helped me.”
Traveling to different colleges and engaging students in meaningful discussion, Project Uplift aims to demonstrate just how powerful the mind can be: within each of us an incredible strength to overcome any situation.
Harnessing the power of mindfulness and its effect on brain waves, participants can levitate a 36” inflatable globe in the air – you must check out this video to see for yourself!
The campaign aims to connect students with assistance available on campus and to feel empowered to take charge of their own mental wellbeing. The project provides a stunning visual metaphor: by uplifting ourselves, we can uplift the world.
Soon, the project will arrive in Times Square: the perfect place to demonstrate the mind’s potential to overcome external stressors. Uplift will partner with the MINDS Foundation, a non-profit that works with patients in rural regions of the developing world to shed light on mental health. In these nations, these types of neurological disorders are rarely recognized as medical conditions, so resources are scarce and afflicted individuals are often the victims of isolation, even violence.
Both of these organizations do a tremendous job of sparking a much-needed dialogue and connect people with essential resources.
The Project Uplift/ MINDS Foundation initiative in Times Square is currently featured on IndieGoGo (a crowd-source funding website). You can do a little more good by supporting the conversation Zach is creating by donating to the project; not only will you be making a difference in building important awareness, there are some incredible perks for you, too! Drop by the IndieGoGo site, contribute, then come out to Times Square to show your support.
Uplift yourself, uplift the world.