GatorWell Health Promotion Services has kicked off a new Fall mental health promotions segment to target student stress levels.

The project, UFlourish, started in the Spring as part of a three-year project funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It was developed between the Counseling and Wellness Center, and GatorWell.

In the Spring, the campaign was called Find Your Balance and featured images of students with the uplifting phrase and statistics. The next step is underway, which involves tackling specific stigmas more directly.

“We’re trying to change the stigma surrounding mental health and getting help,” said Health Promotions Specialist Sarah Martin. “That includes use of protective strategies for stress, anxiety and depression at the same time before seeking help.”

According to a national survey of college students in 2012, posted on the GatorWell website, 45 percent of students reported feeling hopeless within the past year, 85 percent said they were overwhelmed and 30 percent said they “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.”

The Fall campaign of UFlourish is now composed of several different targeted messages including “get active,” “take a deep breath” and “you’re not a burden.”

UFlourish is using social media to publicize its new messages across campus.

“We try to make them relevant,” Martin said. “Drafts were all message-tested with students on campus.”

The project started out with 40 possible designs and ended up with nine.

“I think it’s a great idea to get people to start to talk,” said 21-year-old UF electrical engineering senior Michelle Russell.

A version of this story ran on page 8 on 9/16/2013 under the headline "UF puts stress on mental health"

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