SOS Hosts Virtual “Walk” to Encourage a Positive Mental Health Discussion

Picture+from+the+SOS+website%2C+which+includes+all+of+the+information+regarding+registration+and+organization+of+Walk+For+Wellness+this+year.

Photo courtesy of https://www.strengthoversilence.net

Picture from the SOS website, which includes all of the information regarding registration and organization of Walk For Wellness this year.

Eva Smedeby, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Non-profit organization SOS(Project Strength Over Silence), gathers virtually to support their objective of encouraging individuals to make mental health a positive and uplifting discussion. 

Usually held in the great outdoors, SOS is known to host a yearly event known as Walk for Wellness, where people would — on normality — gather on the track field at SJHHS, and every lap completed would correspond with a donation to a suicide prevention center. With the addition of walking, participants could also contribute by partaking in numerous activities and games, all proceeds going to the cause.

However, considering the many changes this year has generated, the usual construct of Walk for Wellness wasn’t an option, making hosting the event an inevitable challenge. 

“Fall semester, we were hopeful that the pandemic and the situation would get better but as time passed we realized that a physical Walk, as we have done in the past is not possible,” said Shaili Patel, senior student and president of SOS this year. 

Instead, SOS has organized a “virtual walk,” taking place throughout the month of March, each week focusing on a different mental illness — Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders and Suicide. Unlike the usual participant fee, individuals can sign up for the event for free, given the opportunity to donate after registration or by purchasing a $5 Walk For Wellness themed face mask. 

“Considering the pandemic putting financial hardships on numerous people and the lack of the physical event (where we offered numerous crafts, activities and food), we sought to simply have participants register for the walk free, with the option to donate if they choose to,” said Patel. 

In the previous two years, SOS has hosted successful walks for both the Mission Hospital Mental Health Ward and the San Clemente Wellness and Prevention Center (this year’s current subject), raising a collective $10,000. As participation is free this time around, raising this sum can come with some difficulty, giving people even more of a reason to contribute.  

Amidst the world’s current circumstances, many of the usual coping mechanisms and comforts are no longer afforded to us, making it difficult to bring up discussions of mentality, while finding education or help through them. With this in mind, creating an environment where individuals can learn and speak on behalf of mental health without judgment is more prevalent than ever. 

Although, simply bringing up subjects surrounding mental health aren’t without difficulty, as there is a negative stigma surrounding the topic. 

Many times people perceive a negative connotation behind the words “mental health” and “suicide.” I acknowledge that these are delicate words that can stir powerful emotions– that’s what the Walk and essentially Project SOS is for. It stands for an opportunity for peers, students and teachers to talk about mental health openly, and in a positive manner,”

— Shaili Patel

“Many times people perceive a negative connotation behind the words “mental health” and “suicide.” I acknowledge that these are delicate words that can stir powerful emotions– that’s what the Walk and essentially Project SOS is for. It stands for an opportunity for peers, students and teachers to talk about mental health openly, and in a positive manner,” said Patel.

Resources including padlets and weekly infographics are all provided on the SOS Website throughout March, with the addition of Walk For Wellness themed zoom backgrounds and a raffle on their Instagram.

Recognizing mental health should never be shamed, or be a discouraging topic for discussion, and in acknowledgment of this, SOS has created an event in which everyone can participate in. 

Individuals can register and participate in Walk For Wellness on http://strengthoversilence.net, being included in a conversation and organization that is of the utmost importance.