By MADELEINE GALVIN
To kick off Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place in the middle of next month, Frank Warren is visiting Cornell to speak about his movement: PostSecret. For all of those who are unaware (as I was just a few short weeks ago), Warren started this project in 2005 as a community mail art project. He gave people his address and asked for strangers to decorate postcards and send him completely anonymous secrets. He received way more than he could ever imagined; from confessions of sexual misconduct to illegal behaviors, his project was gaining word on the street. This led to the development of what is now known as PostSecret, an extremely famous website that posts pictures of the postcards that are sent in from all over the world, containing people’s heartfelt secrets. Warren has so far published two books containing many of the secrets that he has received.
Why is this important for mental health awareness week? Well, to start, the purpose of PostSecret is to function as an outlet for people to express deep feelings and hidden thoughts in a safe and open environment. While it gives them a means of expression, it also is completely confidential and can remain with the person who contributed to the project. In addition, Warren has paired up with 1-800-Suicide to make sure that his project goes far beyond simply being an art movement; he works with this resource group in the attempt to provide support to college students who are struggling with feelings of depression and may have thoughts of committing suicide. This brings me to one of the key points about mental health on the Cornell campus and why everyone should be engaged in making our school a healthy and open environment: Cornell has a serious history with mental health illnesses, but it is not just in the past. Many students today are still struggling with problems that they keep secret from the community as they go about their lives on campus. A whole community effort to help relieve the stigma surrounding issues of mental health is dedicated to allowing the people who are struggling, and even those who are not, a way to feel accepted and hopefully feel able to share as well.
Tickets to the Frank Warren talk are completely free and can be picked up from the Willard Straight Resource Center. The event will take place on October 16th at 8:00 p.m in Bailey Hall.