Madeline Brooks

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — A Winthrop University sorority held a four-day mental health awareness event last month that organizers say has a meaningful impact on campus.

Sigma Breaks the Stigma, hosted Feb. 25-28 by Sigma Sigma Sigma (or Tri Sigma), sought to break the stigma surrounding issues such as suicide, eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

The event, which has been hosted annually since 2016, featured an activity booth related to a different mental health issue each day.

Raili Burton, a Tri Sigma member, said the purpose of the event is to encourage people to talk about mental health.

The first day addressed depression and anxiety among students, according to Dara Bower, coordinator of this year’s event.

“We did a mental health banner with the hashtag we’re using called #WeAreWellness, because there’s no ‘I’ in wellness. There’s only we,” said Bower, a junior psychology major.

The second day focused on body positivity, which included an activity that encouraged people to write down an insecurity and throw it away and another that encouraged compliments.

The third day focused on suicide prevention and Tri Sigma members gave out temporary semicolon tattoos to support Project Semicolon.

“It is a project that basically is a reminder that you have more to live for. So even if there’s those days that you think your life is over and you have nothing to live for, you can always continue on and there’s always going to be happiness around the corner,” said Tri Sigma member Ashlee Morris, a junior exercise science major.

Suicide prevention is an important part of the event, according to Burton.

“A friend of ours, she was having a really rough day and she really was completely down on herself and she was having (suicidal) thoughts and things like that. And then she posted on Facebook that she came to our tabling that day and it made her feel better and made her change her mind,” said Burton. “Coming to our tabling changed her life.”

The event was created Alexandria Rivas, who Burton said experienced her own mental health issues.

“It was also something that is very prominent in our sorority that we like to talk about,” said Burton, a junior mass communication major. “She started it because she wanted to bring more awareness to it and she wanted Sigma to be known for it.”

The theme of the fourth day focused on general mental health and featured a guided meditation and yoga event, which served as a Winthrop cultural event.

Burton said Sigma Breaks the Stigma will continue to be held every year due to its popularity among students.