‘r u ok’ hopes to provide a space where students can support, open up to each other

A new club has been started at the University of Rhode Island that aims to help spread mental health awareness on campus.

 The club is called “r u ok” and was started by Tatiana Snedeker, a sophomore nursing and international political science major.  

Snedeker started the club with the goal to “advocate and educate the URI community about mental health overall, and what it means to be mentally healthy in college.”  

Snedeker started this club at the very end of the spring 2019 semester. By the end of summer, the club had about 80 people sign up. By the end of First Night this semester, the club had gotten over 200 people to sign up. 

Snedeker shared that she has always struggled with her mental health and that in the community she grew up in, mental health had always been very stigmatized. 

Beyond that, Snedeker explained that when she came to college, “a lot more people than [she] expected struggled with their mental health as well.” After one of her friends died by suicide last April, Snedeker decided to start the club as a way to not only give herself a support system, but also help others build their own support system in the process. 

“Nationally, the statistics are pretty grim,” Dr. Lindsey Anderson, the director of the Psychological Consultation Center, said, “4.4 percent of college students annually have had thoughts about suicide,” Anderson went further with this idea, sharing some of the common issues that lead to students struggling with their mental health. 

“The number of transitions they are going through, the pressure to feel like they need to figure things out, the newly increased independence,” Anderson said. “There is quite a bit that works against students if they don’t have the necessary support systems in place.” 

Furthermore, Anderson said she supports clubs such as “r u ok” on college campuses.

 “There is a really critically important place for peer led organizations on campus to help support an improved mental health climate on campus,” Anderson said.  

Anderson explained that although college campuses provide a number of resources for students struggling with their mental health, students are often more comfortable talking to other students. 

“Students are far more likely to disclose mental health concerns, feelings of depression, anxiety or even thoughts of suicide, to a peer than they are to disclose them to a faculty member, or a therapist, or another campus provider,” Anderson said.  

Snedeker explained that for the first roughly two weeks of classes, “r u ok” will be running a lot of educational events. 

 “[The events aim to] break down the stigmas of mental health in college and give the real factual evidence of what it means to be mentally healthy, what it means to go to therapy, or be on medication and how to break that down in a way that it is less intimidating to people who are new to the concept,” Snedeker said.

 These information sessions are being held in the Memorial Union commuter lounge on various days and at various times. The schedule can be found on the club’s Instagram page @uri.r.u.ok, or by reaching out the Snedeker at tsnedeker@my.uri.edu.