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UW-River Falls raises awareness for mental health

November 13, 2018

Although Mental Illness Awareness Month isn’t until May, and Mental Illness Awareness Week has already passed, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls sees the importance in supporting both alumni and current students through raising awareness and support on this topic.

However, it’s not just about raising awareness for the holiday, but it’s a constant effort to make a difference in the mental health community at River Falls. This month, on November 8th speaker Kevin Hines visited campus to speak about his suicide attempt at the Golden Gate Bridge. May Hall’s theme this month had to do with mental health, and of course, the events that happen a couple times a month including pet therapy and weekly relaxation practice which takes place every Wednesday in the Involvement Center on Campus.

May Hall’s monthly theme this November is “Discover Success: Improve stress management skills.”  Some of the topics that they’re discussing during this time include mental health awareness. Jessica Regan, Hall director for Stratton and May Hall says that, “The halls here at UWRF follow a curriculum called Residential Education Curriculum which includes three major goals; to help students, live civilly, learn effectively, and discover success. Part of that is helping students manage their stress.”

May Hall has hosted a “donut stress” event a couple times this semester where they provide donuts and coffee in the morning for students as their leaving for work or classes. In December, there will be an event called ‘Paint Away Your Stress,’ where counselors and other professionals from the art department help educate students on stress as they paint. Students from all halls are also welcomed to pet therapy which takes place the first Friday of every month and weekly relaxation practice which takes place every Wednesday.

On Wednesday, November 8th, students and community members gathered anxiously inside the ballroom of the University Center to see the incredible story of Kevin Hines. Although his speech started late, he did not disappoint. In the year 2000, Hines tried to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge. He explained to his audience that it was a two-hundred and twenty-foot drop, falling seventy-five miles an hour, he hit the water in a brisk four seconds where he missed shattering his spine by two millimeters. Hines then began explaining what lead up to that almost fatal moment on the Golden Gate Bridge, being very genuine when he talked about his childhood and how it contributed.

From attachment disorder at just nine months of age, bipolar disorder at the age of 17 and soon following, chronic thoughts of suicide. Hines broke the heavy seriousness of the topic with satire. When he was explaining his childhood and how he was adopted at just nine months old he said, “You can think of me as everything but Russian,” and when he spoke of his birthday it was “Gluten-free cake and a cheap candle.””His warmth and raw personality were well conveyed to the audience, and he came across very relatable.”

From his chronic thoughts of suicide to the moment he explained he had instant regrets of letting go of the railing from the Golden Gate Bridge, Kevin Hines was a true inspiration. Many lined up after his speech to talk about their experiences with mental health, or to get a picture with Hines. His heart continued to be there for the people that spoke to him as he gave words of encouragement, showed empathy, and gave advice. Hines now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness & the ability to survive pain with true resilience. According to Hine’s website, he’s in pre-production of his new Documentary Series The Journey, and is working on a comic book version of his life in cosmic and supernatural form called Hope Dealers. His fight has been long and arduous, but he is determined to remain committed to life until its natural end. His motto:

#BeHereTomorrow and every day after that.

Before leaving, Hines had one last piece of advice for the audience about fighting their inner demons:

“To anyone who is heavily considering suicide, who doesn’t like life anymore, I would just say that today is not tomorrow, just because you’re in a world of pain today doesn’t mean you don’t get to have your beautiful tomorrow but you have to get there in the first place and you have to fight the pain to get there in the first place. I would say if you’re considering suicide and you often think that you don’t want to be here, find ways to give back to your community so that you find a purpose.”

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