Student organization leads 5K for mental health awareness

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(Photo Courtesy of Jessica Morris ’18)

Tristan Smith

In the cold and rain this past Sunday, 215 people participated in the Mental Miles 5k and raised close to $2,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI), “the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization,” according to its website.

Mental Miles was a fundraiser committed to raising awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention. The event was sponsored by Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Upsilon (DU) and the Mental Health Coalition.

Mental Miles, a student-run initiative, was spearheaded by Kenzie Corbin ’18, a member of the Mental Health Coalition.

“Basically I had this idea, and I wanted to do it really badly, and I think it’s really beneficial, and I sort of just joined forces with the Mental Health Coalition,” Corbin said.

“[The Mental Health Coalition is] not a formal club on campus. We’re just kind of students who care about mental health,” she added. “Since we’re new, we’re open to…anything, so if someone has an idea, we can just do it.”

The Lehigh Valley chapter of NAMI helped the Mental Health Coalition plan the event. NAMI will distribute the proceeds from the event to fund research on mental illness and organize more advocacy programs.

This event is only the first of many that the Mental Health Coalition has planned. For instance, as a year-long project, the Mental Health Coalition will be presenting “Random Acts of Kindness.” Students can sign a form with the name of a friend and their dorm room, and the Mental Health Coalition will deliver a care-package to the friend with an inspirational note.

The Mental Health Coalition also hosts “Mental Health in the Media,” where they meet and discuss the media’s portrayals of mental health, Corbin said.

While the group will continue to grow and plan events to help with mental health and wellness, Corbin feels the 5K was a good start.

“I really liked the platform of using running and walking and getting fit for mental health, because when you’re active—when you’re physically active—you’re bettering your mind,” Corbin said.

The event was held a year after Joey Towers ’18 took his own life. After his death, his brothers in DU set up a donation page in Towers’ honor for the Movember Foundation, which aims at suicide prevention and mental health awareness in the United States. DU will be raising money for the cause again this year.