MU organizations battle stigma, stress with Tigers Take Action Carnival

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | 6:38 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU residence hall coordinator Scott Bosley spent an August afternoon keeping cool — as the target of a dunking booth in the center of campus.

"I'd say I got dunked about fifteen or twenty times," he said while drying off. "That last guy was on a roll."

Other resources available:

  • MU Counseling Center ,
  • LGBTQ Resource Center,
  • Women's Center,
  • Multicultural Center,
  • Tiger Pantry,

Bosley was one of 12 volunteers who agreed to be dunked in the name of mental health and relaxation Wednesday at the second Tigers Take Action Carnival.

The carnival, which was coordinated by the MU Counseling Center, featured snow cones, cotton candy and games hosted by various MU organizations. Each booth featured a tip for students to lead a more mentally and physically healthy lifestyle: "Exercise!" "Be creative!" "Sink stigma!"

The goal of the event was to help students relax and to destigmatize campus services that students are sometimes reluctant or embarrassed to use, Counseling Center outreach coordinator Christy Hutton said.

These services include mental health care at the Counseling Center, food assistance at Tiger Pantry and peer support at the LGBTQ Resource Center.

"Stigma is the reason students don’t get help," Hutton said. "When we look at statistics, we see that 80 percent of college students who die by suicide don’t get any kind of help. By getting rid of stigma, we can save lives and help students have the college experience they came for."

Hutton added that she hopes interacting with campus staff in an informal setting at the carnival will help students view them as more approachable.

Tiger Pantry director Paul Haluszczak, who helped run a beanbag toss for the carnival, said he has noticed stigma surrounding his organization manifesting itself as a significant gap between the number of people who sign up for Tiger Pantry services online and the number who follow through in person.

"That's our best measure of how many people are maybe too shy to physically come in to our facilities," he said. "We currently have 250 clients compared to the 350 who had originally signed up. Shrinking that gap is one of our main goals, and we think this event is a good way to help with that. Tiger Pantry is a really friendly environment."

Martesha Woodhouse, a junior at MU, said that the carnival helped her take a break from the stresses of the new school year.

"When I saw this, my eyes lit up," she said. "We’re all just big kids, and we just need to escape, sometimes, from classes and organizing and studying. It's good to know that Mizzou cares."

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