YORK, Pa. — “I can’t control everything,” “I don’t have a place to call home,” “Sometimes I just have to smile through the pain,” “I stole a $.50 pie in third grade,” “I think about death a lot more than I should,” “I feel like I don’t belong here, and have trouble socializing,” "I have more anxiety at home than here,” and “I’m afraid of failure and it is hard to try new things” are just a few of the anonymous secrets being displayed on the Share a Secret Board on campus outside of Rosie’s Café in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center (The Ruhl Center) at Penn State York.
The messages were written by students, faculty and staff, who were asked to share a secret, and are now being displayed in preparation for the IMALIVE Mental Health Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, concluding with a visit from Reese Butler, founder of 1-800-SUICIDE, to speak at 2 p.m. that day.
“Penn State York strives to support mental health needs for students, and we want to raise awareness and provide information and services,” said Sarah Bender, counselor at Penn State York. “We hope the Mental Health Fair and presentation by Reese Butler will help students and others realize they are not alone,” said Bender.
The IMALIVE Mental Health Fair will take place outside on the walkway near the upper-level entrance to the The Ruhl Center. In case of inclement weather, the fair will be moved inside to the lower level of The Ruhl Center. The programs are being sponsored by the Penn State York Counseling Center and the University Programming Board.
The board displaying anonymous secrets that were collected in a secure box also includes signs printed with information on counseling services and crisis resources. The Share a Secret Board will be displayed during the IMALIVE Mental Health Fair.
Additional booths and activities include fact or fiction questions and answers, brain facts, and a graffiti activity. Tables with resources from campus will be on display, including information from counseling services, the Nittany Success Center, University Police and Public Safety and more. Community organizations include Suicide Prevention of York, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Family First Health.
At 2 p.m. in the Precision Custom Components (PCC) Community Room, Reese Butler, the founder of 1-800-SUICIDE — a help line to support individuals in crisis — will share his story and answer questions during “A Conversation with Reese Butler.” He will talk about warnings signs and symptoms to be aware of regarding suicide.
After losing his wife, Kristin Brooks Rossell, to suicide on April 7, 1998, Butler founded the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and the National Hopeline Network, 1-800-SUICIDE. In the last 25 years more than 20 million callers to 1-800-SUICIDE have been routed to help and hope through the National Hopeline Network and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network.
Butler launched the IMALIVE Mental Health Fair on May 25, 2010, which has won numerous awards from the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and colleges nationwide. The IMALIVE Fair has been invited to more than over 200 colleges and universities and is considered the first and only educational event to reduce stigma, raise awareness and educate about suicide prevention and mental illness.