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USU’s chapter of I Am That Girl to welcome organization’s founder

March 29th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Alyssa Roberts
A Woman’s Place

She is confident, smart and happy.

She is loving and open-hearted. She embraces her flaws. She understands her worth and tries to help others do the same.

She is that girl.

And, at Utah State University, there’s a whole club of women just like her.

This Tuesday, as part of USU’s first mental health awareness week, USU’s chapter of I Am That Girl will welcome motivational speaker Alexis Jones, who co-founded the organization. A non-profit aimed at empowering women locally and globally, I Am That Girl focuses on encouraging its members to be successful and healthy, both mentally and physically.

“I feel like the main thing that I just get out of I Am That Girl is a support system,” said Annissa Parra, an I Am That Girl member. “It’s just such a judgment-free zone and you can go in there like, you know, and feel totally at ease and comfortable with yourself. I love that feeling.”

Jones is scheduled to kick off the Mental Health Is No Joke event with a presentation titled, “#BeBrave: dreams, love and living radically.” The free event will be held in the Taggart Student Center’s ballroom from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Mental Health Is No Joke will be a week-long mental health awareness event sponsored and coordinated by multiple on-campus organizations, including I Am That Girl.

Sheree Haggan, the multicultural program coordinator for the Access and Diversity Center at USU and a co-founder of USU’s chapter of I Am That Girl, explained the idea for a mental health awareness event came from Ty Aller, a graduate student in the marriage and family therapy program. The two decided to partner together and create a mental health awareness week, which they plan to make an annual event.

Haggan and Aller soon grew concerned that the timing of the event – coinciding with April Fool’s Day – might make people think it was a joke.

“That’s where we came up with the title, ‘Mental Health Is No Joke,’” Haggan said.

Jones’ presentation will attempt to target mental health issues specific to the USU community. Haggan hopes it will be a more light-hearted way to start a conversation about serious issues. Her goal is to help motivate and educate audience members by first promoting a healthy self-image.

“I hope that it provides them with the opportunity to heal from negative effects of mental illness and learn valuable coping skills,” Haggan said. “Mental health is a taboo topic in today’s society. We all want to be perfect, yet faking perfection is dangerous to our well-being.”

More information about Mental Health Is No Joke events can be found on the Access and Diversity Center’s web page, usu.edu/accesscenter/calendar.cfm. Information about I Am That Girl can be found at iamthatgirl.com or on the USU chapter’s Facebook page, facebook.com/iatgusu.

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