According to a Pew Research Center survey, 58% of adults aged 18 to 29 have experienced high levels of mental distress at least once since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Now, Salt Lake Community College’s Health and Counseling Center (CHC) is focusing its efforts on helping students process those feelings with their Feels Campaign, a program of events meant to promote services and resources at the CHC.
The campaign, originally set for 2020 but delayed because of the pandemic, launched in October 2022. Health Promotion Manager Whitney Ockey said the Salt Lake County Health Department provided funding to help the campaign’s launch, and that so far it has been successful.
“It seems to be going really well,” she said. “We’re seeing a need for mental health resources for our students, and right now we’re just trying to serve that need.”
One aspect of the campaign is a series of graphics created by Jasmin Wesley, a designer for the CHC. Wesley said the graphics focus on communicating to students that their feelings are understood and not something they should avoid.
“All feelings are valid,” she said. “You shouldn’t be trying to get rid of bad ones and get good ones.”
Part of Wesley’s inspiration for the graphics came from watching the Pixar film “Inside Out,” which depicts physical manifestations of emotion, and examining other mental health campaigns that also handle its depiction.
“[Other campaigns] would have these really ugly emojis and be like, ‘This is Jeff, he’s a mad emoji. Don’t be a mad emoji.’ I thought to myself that this isn’t true … [feeling] mad is a valid emotion sometimes,” Wesley said.
The graphics display human-like beings, which Wesley identifies as “hoomans” since they aren’t quite human, and explained that she calls the colorful lumps “goobers.” Wesley said she intentionally left out many distinct features on the graphics, like gendered body types and hair, to make them more relatable to viewers.
The most recent Feels Campaign event, held on Feb. 2, featured a workshop directed by SLCC licensed therapist Claudia Eli Zeppelini Cioni, in which she focused on emotional intelligence and couples. Cioni said understanding your own feelings is crucial to sustaining connections.
“You are 50% of any of your relationships,” said Cioni, who encouraged students at the feels event to take advantage of services available to them at the college.
According to Ockey, the CHC will hold Feels Campaign events at least once per semester for the next year. For more information about the CHC, services that the center offers or upcoming events, visit slcc.edu/chc.