ECU holds event to address mental health

GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina University hosted it’s second annual Fresh Check Day, to raise awareness of mental illness and preventing suicide.

ECU, in conjunction with the Jordan Porco Foundation, is one of three universities in North Carolina participating in Fresh Check Day this year. The Porco family started the foundation in 2011 following the death of their son Jordan due to suicide.

Georgia Childs works for ECU’s wellness programs and said, “We’re seeing a lot of students come in now with high expectations, not that people didn’t have them before, but they are part of a generation that everything is right there in front of them.”

Childs said over her career in education she’s seen a difference in student perspective.

“There’s competition in everything that they’re doing, and they are being pressured to do the best and be the best at everything and they’re told they are the best at everything,” said Childs.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults between the age of 15 and 24.

One in every ten students contemplates suicide every year.

Erin Tucci is a junior at ECU and said mental health issues can be hard to find but are not uncommon.

“Sometimes it can be disguised because those who are struggling from depression will often isolate themselves and not tell their peers what they’re going through because there is a stigma,” said Tucci.

So what’s causing it?

Several of the people I talked to describe the pressure to deliver and to excel.

“Trying to put on a facade for people making ourselves seem perfect,” said Tucci. “We want to be the perfect kid the perfect student and where ever we are we want to be the perfect kid the perfect student.”

For Childs, the answer is even clearer.

“Social media, everything is instant gratification you have to have it now. There’s no waiting for anything. There’s no anticipation.” Childs said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults between the ages of 15-24 in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million college students (out of 20 million total) contemplate suicide, and about 1.2 million high school students (out of 14.9 million total) attempt suicide each year.

Fresh Check Day is a celebratory fair-like event that includes interactive expo booths, music, free food, prizes and giveaways. Capitalizing on the research-supported peer-to-peer messaging model, Fresh Check Day utilizes peer groups to staff interactive booths that deliver mental health and resource messaging in a fun and engaging way.


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