After becoming friends the previous academic year, Weinberg abandoned Sila Hinrichs. And Finola Somerville felt NU students lacked mental health resources at an institution with a culture of perfectionism.
“I feel like everyone in our class is always struggling with something,” Heinrich said.
To address the stigma associated with mental health, Hinrichs and Somerville co-founded a NU chapter of “If You’re Reading This”, a national organization founded by University of Virginia students that aims to share common struggles and Experiences have to be added.,
Each chapter accepts submissions from students, faculty, and alumni about their mental health experiences. Readers can reach out to letter writers on the “If You’re Reading This” website to connect about shared struggles and experiences.
Whether in regards to family issues, impostor syndrome or transitioning to a new academic setting, the NU chapter is there to help struggling students feel less alone, Hinrichs said.
“Whatever your struggle is, someone else has it too,” Heinrich said.
The NU chapter has already published two letters and plans to release one per week online and on Instagram, According to Somerville.
She said she hopes the chapter receives submissions from across campus, so online visitors are more likely to read about experiences they can relate to.
Somerville said, “Especially being a Northwestern student, I would say that most of the student body here is accustomed to excelling.” “To be at Northwestern, it takes a lot of hard work, and I think it can be kind of a shock in college when things aren’t the way they used to be”
Weinberg senior Cade Kelly said he recounted his mental health experiences from his first year as a peer advisor. He was the first NU student to submit a paper to “If You’re Reading This NU” and wrote about introversion and the difficulties of fitting in.
Kelly said she felt unsafe sharing her story and questioned how much information she should make public.
But, after the letter was posted, Kelly said some of her peers reached out to say they similarly wished for normalization of mental health struggles. Kelly said she hopes more NU students will connect with each other to discuss advancing mental health.
She added that normalizing mental health struggles can help reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help when they need it.
,We just help people on college campuses understand that they are not alone, creating a network of people who are going through the same things we are all going through,” Daly, Medill sophomore and former NU chapter Staffer Julia Nichols said the photographer.
Social media can present a false idea of people’s experiences, Nichols said, something the “If You’re Reading This NU” Instagram account aims to counteract.
Hinrichs and Somerville said the chapter has received significant public support on Instagram so far, including many positive comments and letter repostings.
Nichols also said that NU lacks mental health resources or real support – this is where some student organizations step in to intervene.
Kelly said students have a sense of what resources they need but it is difficult for the university to actually get those resources.
“We have a lot of mental health resources that students have had really negative experiences with,” Kelly said. “(If you’re reading this) is very student-centered as far as understanding the kinds of problems people face here at Northwestern and the struggles people face.”
Somerville said the NU chapter is not yet officially recognized by student organizations and activities, but the team is working on increasing its presence on campus.
According to Somerville, “If You’re Reading This NU” hopes to eventually host meetings and events.
Nichols said, “I hope this creates an open communication for people so that they feel like there is a place where they can talk about mental health and just life and feeling like vulnerability is not a weakness.” , “Where they can come as they are. They are welcome here, knowing who they are.
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