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ECU's 'Fresh Check Day' gets students talking about mental health

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GREENVILLE, Pitt County - East Carolina University is playing host to its second annual "Fresh Check Day," aiming to get the conversation going about mental health and suicide prevention.

In 2011, a Connecticut family lost their son. Since then, they've committed their lives to preventing other families from going through similar tragedies with events like "Fresh Check Day" held on college campuses nationwide -- including ECU.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 2 million college students contemplate suicide each year.

One student at today's event told NewsChannel 12's Stephanie Brown why mental health awareness is so crucial, especially for young adults and college students.

"It just feels like some days brushing your teeth is the hardest task," ECU sophomore Claire Goff said. "That's the best way for me to describe depression."

Goff's battle with mental illness began when she was just eight years old. She said she remembers a time where it seemed like there was no hope, but since getting the right help and resources, she is now in recovery.

"There's always light at the end of the tunnel," Goff said. "There's always people that are willing to help you even if you feel like you're alone. There's someone out there, which is why we're all here today to let you know that we're here."

This is ECU's second annual "Fresh Check Day" -- an initiative aimed at raising mental health awareness and preventing suicide.

"Having a conversation about it is the most important thing," Senior Assistant Director of Wellness Peer Health Ainsley Worrell said. "If we're silent, what happens is that grows into a more serious thing. So, I really think that's the value of this event."

The event went on Thursday from 2-5 p.m. The afternoon was filled with music, food, prizes and giveaways. Organizers said the fun atmosphere helps make it easier for young people to talk about mental health.

"I think young adults with social media nowadays we have a lot of pressure on us," Goff said. "Fun, fair-like events like this kind of reduce the stigma and allow everyone to feel more comfortable with who they are."

Goff said attending last year's "Fresh Check Day" was a huge turning point in her own mental health journey. She hopes they're able to help another student in the same way.

Since the first "Fresh Check Day" in 2012, the event has been observed at more than 75 colleges nationwide, including ECU, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State.

Mental health is something that people should be mindful of, regardless of age, officials said.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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