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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Three UF students are taking a stand on mental illness by creating a nonprofit called Stronger than Stigma.

Gabrielle Magid, Harrison Cady and Allison Buenaga will host the organization’s first meeting Thursday, with the hopes of changing the way society views mental health issues.

Magid, a UF women’s studies senior, created the group to shed light on mental disorders that impact college students.

“This is my passion,” the 22-year-old said. “We saw a need in that community for a support network. This is really a movement for college students by college students.”

At the meeting, Magid and her fellow executive board members, Cady, Buenaga and Florida State University student Skylar Warmund, will discuss the FSU shooting, Amanda Bynes and Robin Williams at UF Hillel starting at 6 p.m. 

The UF students founded the organization in 2013 to tackle student mental health head-on. 

Magid said she and the other board members deeply care about mental health issues and the way they are handled and viewed by society.

“We all have personal ties with the cause,” she said. “We all either have firsthand experience ourselves or because of a family member.”

One in four Americans struggle with mental illness, according to Stronger than Stigma. 

Buenaga, a UF sociology junior, plans on going to graduate school to learn more about eating disorders, substance abuse issues and ways to help people who are afflicted.

“I want to be a mental health counselor and work in a rehabilitation center,”  the 21-year-old said. “I think it’s important to be able to talk about mental health issues. Communication and having a strong support system is an important part of treating mental illness.”

The group is looking to expand to other Florida universities.  

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“Our next stop is FSU, where Skylar is a student,” Magid said. 

[A version of this story ran on page 13 on 12/10/2014]

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