Local chapter helps students with depression
Jennifer Katzer | Collegio writer
Pittsburg State’s chapter of To Write Love on her Arms has been recognized as a top five university-based chapters by the movement’s national headquarters. This recognition is based on the effort by students to reach out to others, such as holding events, naming officers, and creating Facebook and Twitter pages.
In celebration of this achievement, the chapter will hold a benefit that will be attended by staff from the national headquarters. The “Remember the Stars” Benefit for to Write Love on her Arms will be held at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Gorilla Village. Local bands will play under the gazebo, merchandise will be sold, and the event will end with balloons, sporting glow sticks, being released into the air.
Stephanie Withrow, senior in physical education and Spanish education and president of TWLOHA, says 50 percent of the money collected will go to TWLOHA headquarters and 50 percent will go to the Spring River Mental Health Facility near Riverton. All proceeds from merchandise sales will go to “IMAlive,” an online crisis center similar to the suicide hotline.
To Write Love on her Arms is a national non-profit movement working toward helping those struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide, and to encourage treatment.
Lindsey Nance, senior in international studies and treasurer of the Pitt State chapter, says the organization creates an uplifting environment for people struggling with depression and other problems.
“TWLOHA is about turning around and helping the people around you, and not just consuming resources,” Nance said. “It’s
uplifting to know you’re not alone.”
Withrow says the group gives people the chance to talk about common problems people go through.
“TWLOHA sparks conversation,” Withrow said. “A lot of people know about this stuff, but don’t often have the opportunity to talk about it. We’re here as someone to talk to.”
Some students, like Theo Hines, sophomore in illustrations, come to meetings and realize they have had similar problems as those the group addresses.
A safe haven
“My friend told me about TWLOHA,” Hines said. “I came to a meeting and listened and realized I dealt with a lot of these issues as well. I thought this was a club I wanted to belong to. I now look forward to Thursdays.”
Other students, like David Munro, senior in geography, have family backgrounds that allow them to appreciate the group.
“Being the son of a psychiatrist, it moves me to see a club like this,” Munro said. “People usually think of health as a physical problem, like cancer or the flu, but few think of the mental side of it.”
Breaking the mold
Withrow says the group tries to remove the negative connotation people have when talking about depression and other psychological problems.
“It’s as big of an issue as losing your leg,” Withrow said. “But it’s such a stigma that people don’t take it seriously.”
Nance says the stigma restricts the effectiveness of professional help but hopes that groups like TWLOHA can eliminate it.
“TWLOHA has such an uplifting message and a way to approach the issues. They actually offer hope, not just help. People are not just a label here. It’s a community, and I love that.”