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"Ignite the Light" works to change stigma of mental health awareness

PRSSA's

PRSSA's "Ignite the Light" glow party worked to change the stigma of mental health awareness (Northern Review photo/Devan Bianco)

Igniting the light sounds like something one would hear from a song, but for one organization at Ohio Northern University, it's the opportunity to make a stand and "Ignite the Light" for mental health awareness.

The National Bateman Competition is an annual event hosted by the national Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in order to provide public relations students the opportunity to have hands-on experiences with developing and implementing a campaign. Every year, PRSA chooses a client that the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapters across the United States works with to design a new campaign in regards to the client's needs and wants.

This year, the client was Campaign to Change, a nonprofit organization developed to help change the stigma of mental health awareness. Through learning the five signs of mental health illnesses--withdrawal, poor self-care, hopelessness, personality change, and agitation--and through taking a strong pledge, Campaign to Change believes that it will be able to build awareness towards mental health. 

This year, ONU's Bateman team, comprised of seniors, juniors, and sophomores in the university's public relations department, took on the task of developing a strategic campaign for the Campaign to Change at the beginning of September. For several months, the students worked hard to gather data about the organization and to develop strategies to enhance the campaign. After months of research and planning, the implementation month finally arrived.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, the student team hosted a halftime free throw competition during an ONU men’s basketball game to help promote the team's campaign. The students were able to communicate the five signs of mental health illnesses to the audience members and provided entertainment during the game's halftime break.

Then on Friday, Feb. 17, the group held a glow party in the Bear Cave on campus. During the event, students were able to sit and enjoy music, play bingo and live Pac-Man in order to win prizes. A photo booth was also provided so participants could take their photo with the five signs of mental health awareness to later post on social media to spread even more awareness. 

Over the next few weeks, the Bateman team will be hosting more events around campus and at local high schools to build awareness for the Campaign to Change. Through presentations and games, the team members hope to change the stigma of mental health. 

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