It’s been a tough year.
If the general public can agree on anything, it’s that 2020 was a tough year.
Self-isolation, social distancing, working remotely and limited social gatherings have taken a toll on mental health.
As people have started resuming life in this new normalcy, the disconnect between associates has grown greater. Utah State University has started a campaign to bridge the gap between strangers, and make the campus community, well, social again.
The Say Hello campaign is an initiative to encourage students to take the first step in creating an environment where others feel welcomed and connected. By simply saying hello to someone, it can brighten someone else’s day, uplift one’s mood, create connections or re-connect with others and strengthen relationships.
On Monday, April 12, USU will be hosting a Hello Walk from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., on the sidewalk north of the Quad. The Hello Walk is a long USU tradition and will kick-off A-Week. This year, it is particularly important as it will help students to re-connect with their peers, encourage them to participate in the Say Hello movement and, of course, get some free Aggie swag.
Mariela Luster, marketing student and intern with the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, came up with the idea for a simple way to re-connect with others after she returned to campus in January to find a lack of interaction between students.
“It’s easy to get lost in the sea of students at a college campus and even more easy to be lost behind a mask,” said Luster. “When someone is struggling with mental health there are many resources offered: links to click on, phone numbers to call, etc. But I started thinking, what if there was something we could do now? What if there was a simple call to action?
“One day I decided I was going to make the effort to stay off my phone whenever I was around other people,” Luster said. “Without the distraction, I started noticing other people and simply saying hello. I wanted to make others feel recognized, and I was actually the one who felt better and more included.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of surveyed U.S. adults have felt anxious, 49% felt depressed and 43% felt lonely at least once in the past week.
“The intent behind this campaign reflects the type of caring community we have here at USU,” said Eri Bentley, associate director of USU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). “Encouraging social connection may improve mood and outlook as we go into the final months of this pandemic.”
CAPS is one of the many resources available to students at USU. Campus recreation is another great way to get involved with fellow students and make those connections we have all been lacking. The Student Health and Wellness Center offers mental health, medical and nutritional care.
“Students are genuinely cared about at USU,” said Krystin Deschamps, director of student conduct and community standards. “We can’t wait to “say hello” in the fall—and for the rest of this semester.”
For more information on the Say Hello campaign, visit https://www.usu.edu/student-affairs/sayhello.