Taking Back Our Mental Health: Fresh Check Day


Fresh Check Day is still looking for volunteers! Check your school emails. Photo courtesy of @reachoutwsu on Instagram.

Maddy Hall

WESTFIELD-The Counseling Center will host its own 8th annual Fresh Check Day on April 13th to engage students at Westfield State in mental health activities and provide tips on suicide prevention. One of the most significant events of the year held by the Counseling Center will be on
Thursday, April 13th, 11-3 pm on Campus Green.

When discussing the atmosphere of Fresh Check Day, Daniel Currier, fellow sophomore and Vice President of Finance at Westfield State,
mentioned the creative categorization of activities that Fresh Check Day holds.

“The purpose of Fresh Check Day is suicide prevention, and anyone that goes through a series of tables to learn how to prevent suicide in different individuals. Some focus on traditional college, men, women, LGBTQ population, mental health awareness, and they try to make it exciting while not being depressing,” said Currier.

Currier volunteered at the food court last year for Fresh Check Day. Although he was a volunteer last year, the positive aura and joys of laughter significantly impacted those on Campus Green that day. As the United States struggles to conquer the mental health crisis, the Jordan Porco Foundation supports colleges nationwide to provide their students with activities to promote mental health and, most importantly, save lives. Since 2016, Westfield State University (even during the COVID Pandemic) has continued to provide Fresh Check Day to break the stigma surrounding
mental health.

“Fresh Check Day is unique in that it strives to convey important mental health information in an engaging and uplifting way and relies on peer-to-peer messaging whenever possible,” said Leah Nelson, Director of Programs at the Jordan Porco Foundation.

Many Westfield State University students regard Fresh Check Day as the most exciting and memorable event of the year because of its unique activities and booths that engage students in all kinds of mental health information, ranging from depression to suicide prevention.

“We’re planning on having the dance team there, maybe possibly have goat yoga, pet therapy, uplifting music, and gratifying entertainment. The booths will be interactive and have activities like mask-making, letter writing, and games while keeping mental health learning relevant,” said
Raven Burrell, a first-year outreach counselor of the Counseling and organizer of Fresh Check Day.

As a first-year outreach counselor at the counseling center of Westfield State, Raven Burrell hopes to carryon Julia Nedry’s (the previous outreach counselor) legacy of organizing Fresh Check Day into an unforgettable experience for Westfield State students. Although she recognizes the unimaginable weight over her shoulder of managing a successful Fresh Check Day, Burrell wants to continue building Westfield State’s staple experience of empowering students with knowledge and information to protect our mental health.

“When Nedry first brought Fresh Check Day to campus, it was a success, and I know that she would go all-out on the event and sometimes drag Fresh Check Day to the evenings. However ,she first discovered Fresh Check Day by attending the AUCCCO (Association for University and
College Counseling Center Outreach) Conference, which brainstorms ways of improving their counseling on college campuses,” said Burrell.

Since Fresh Check Day’s debut in 2012, the event has shown much significance with an overall improvement in mental health and creating a more open dialogue about mental health and suicide said Nelson. At the end of every Fresh Check Day, the Jordan Porco Foundation conducts
surveys of students who attend and assesses the impact of Fresh Check Day.

“200 colleges across the country will participate in Fresh Check Day this year alone! Furthermore, data collected from optional and anonymous post-event surveys consistently show Fresh Check Day’s positive impact on students’ awareness of resources, comfort with talking
about mental health and asking for help, and preparedness to help a friend who may be struggling with their mental health,” said Nelson.

However, when discussing the most interesting booth, Dan Botte, a junior student at Westfield State University looked forward to learning about the LGBTQ booth.

“I look forward to the individual booths and the LGBTQ booth Fresh Check Day will hold. Even though I do not identify with the LGBTQ community, I think it’s essential for myself and others to learn about the topic since many societal issues have created more mental health issues among the LGBTQ people,” said Botte.

Although the Covid-19 Pandemic and college life have significantly changed our lives and mental health, Botte plans to attend Fresh Check Day to uplift himself and his friends around him. As an individual that has never gone to Fresh Check Day, the opportunity of learning about mental health while having the potential to win prizes in games brings much appeal to him. Even though Fresh Check Day is a well-thought-out event, students like Botte wish that the event warranted a day off from school. In addition, it would likely incentivize more students and faculty to attend Fresh Check instead of worrying about attending work, said Botte.

“I remember during my Freshman Year (during the spring semester of 2021) that there was a day dedicated to mental health, and the University canceled all classes, but I have not seen that happen since. So, although Fresh Check Day sounds exciting, I wish the school was off that
day,” said Botte.

Even if the University could not make Fresh Check Day a day off for all Westfield State students, all students, and faculty should consider attending said Currier, to foster our community at Westfield State. Regarding the students who work around the clock, Currier recognized that
constraint since he is among many students in many clubs and organizations. He emphasized that going as far as showing up to Fresh Check Day, even for a small amount of time, and volunteering can make a significant difference.

“You can be there as short as fifteen minutes, and just fifteen minutes of your day going to Fresh Check Day can mean a lot to people while learning how to prevent suicide on campus, and mental health is certainly a big concern. It’s important to develop those skills necessary to
combat depression and suicide on and off campus,” said Currier.

If you are interested in volunteering at Fresh Check Day, please contact Raven Burrell for details at [email protected]. In addition, the counseling center is open to all Westfield State students in the Annex of Lammers Hall and can be reached at 413-572-5790.

If you are a student at Westfield State University interested in engaging in mental health, you can reach out to Mercedes Rozzi at [email protected] for details on Morgan’s Message, a program designated for supporting the mental health of student-athletes.