80 run, walk 5K for mental health, suicide awareness

On April 11, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s seminar in health promotion class put on a 5K Mental Health and Suicide Awareness run. This was the eighth annual race that students put together and completed.
This year the mental health and suicide awareness run was a large project with a lot of moving parts. This was the second year that Health Promotion has partnered with the counseling services on campus, which caused more planning than previous years.
“Each year I assign a group of students to put together this event and make it the best it can be. It is a boat ton of work, and I believe the ladies pulled it off quite well,” health and human performance lecturer Lisa Emendorfer said.
Kayla Mountain and Jessica Butler senior health and human performance majors were paired with Kasandra Legate junior health and human performance major to put on this event. They spent three months putting it together. They worked on the route by hand measuring the distances and designed their own shirts. They even brought in Brent Johnson from Xtreme 107.1 to deejay the event.
“This was by far one of the most challenging yet rewarding class projects I have ever worked on.  I wasn’t really aware of how much time and effort had to be put forth to pull this whole thing off,” Mountain said.
The second leading cause of death among college students is suicide. The leading cause of suicide is untreated depression.  Jason Artz, a counselor with Student Health Services on campus, is an important advocate of suicide awareness. His role at UW-Platteville is not only to mentor and talk with students on campus, but to also find new ways to bring awareness to light. Last year he began a campaign called “Stomp out Stigma” where he and other groups on campus made it a point to encourage people to talk about mental health. This year he decided to participate in the run as well as partner with the department.
“We knew that the Health and Human Performance Department always did their annual 5K in the spring, so we approached and asked if they wanted to partner and take on a mental health theme,” Artz said.
About one third of college students experience depression that can keep them from doing what they need to do on a daily basis. This is true for not only UW-Platteville, but everywhere else in the nation. Most of these students are afraid to seek help because they have never experience those emotions before.
“Almost all of the students that come in seeking help say that they were encouraged by a friend to do so, so I think we need to make it a more well-known theme for friends to help friends and get those friends or coworkers help. We all can make a difference just by reaching out,” Artz said.
There were around 80 participants in the run. Whether they were participating for awareness, in memory of a loved one or just for fun everyone was touched by their overwhelming spirit.
“I feel like it is something that everyone should know about. There are always people that need help and are too afraid to ask. All of these people participating are here because they recognize that this is a great thing and it is something that should be commended,” junior psychology major Hannah Wilson said.
Aaron Bishop was the first male to finish the race with a time of 22 minutes and 50 seconds followed by Krista Krueger who finished the event first for the women with a time of 28 minutes flat. The turnout was exceptional and was everything that Mountain and her crew could have asked for.
“Kassandra, Jessica and I were all pleased with how everything turned out. This was an eye opening experience for us to learn how important it is to advocate for mental health and suicide awareness,” Mountain said.