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Senior Helps Launch Mental Health Awareness Program

February 23, 2018

Throughout his time at FSU, senior political science major Alex Ball has witnessed the effects of mental health issues among his family, friends, fraternity brothers, and even himself. He also has seen how the stigma that surrounds these issues dulls and prevents necessary conversations. And it has angered him.

"I've always thought that people should seek help if they need it, but have seen countless times the barriers that society puts up to prevent them from getting it – let alone talking about it," said Ball, an economics minor and past director of the World Affairs Program. "It was a tension I always carried with me, and then I came across this quote from Peter Drucker that struck a cord: 'The best plan is only good intentions unless it degenerates into work.'”

Ball found his opportunity to act and advocate rather than just living in frustration and anger when he became part of the student-led Mental Health Council. Founded in 2017, the organization's mission is to legitimize mental health concerns and reduce the negative stigmas associated with them. Ball currently serves as program director for the group, and COSSPP students Kevin DiMatteo and Matt McSoley, a 2017 Social Science Scholar, hold seats on its board.

According to statistics and studies compiled by the council, one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosis of mental illness, and more than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year. Because as many as 70% of university counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems is increasing, the Mental Health Council is determined to raise awareness of the issue among the entire FSU community.

With that in mind, the organization is set to launch a new campaign called Remove the Mask. Ball and his fellow council members were inspired by the university's Power Of We campaign and the impact of that campaign's public service announcements during FSU football games.

The campaign will be launched with a special event at Dohnányi Recital Hall on Monday, February 26, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.

Ball said he hopes the campaign can "act as an amplifier focusing student leaders’ voices for change and at bare minimum awareness."

The college puts great support behind its Get More Than a Degree initiative, encouraging students to participate in transformative experiences beyond the classroom and providing opportunities for educational enhancement through extracurricular activities. For Ball, being part of the council and the Remove the Mask campaign has certainly fulfilled that goal.

"Being involved in this campaign is leading me to be a more socially engaged and aware person," he said "Since this campaign is so diverse wide-reaching by nature, it has forced me to confront my own biases and stigmas. It is definitely acting as a lens through which I will be viewing my career post graduation. After seeing the magic this campaign has accomplished already by connecting people for a common cause, I just can’t get enough of how powerful that is."

For more about the council and the campaign, visit the Facebook page.

Alex Ball