by Rachel Papke
Most people are surprised to learn that suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15-24.
The Jordan Porco Foundation’s mission is to prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults. They accomplish this by providing engaging and uplifting peer-run programs on college campuses. Their signature program is Fresh Check Day.
Fresh Check Day is an uplifting mental health promotion and suicide prevention event that includes interactive expo booths, peer-to-peer messaging, support of multiple campus departments and groups, free food, entertainment, and exciting prizes and giveaways.
Fresh Check Day aims to create an approachable and hopeful atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage in dialogue about mental health and helps to build a bridge between students and the mental health resources available.
The program’s primary goals are to:
- Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students
- Reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help
- Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern
- Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress
The Jordan Porco Foundation does not charge a fee for service for Fresh Check Day in consideration of varying capacities to fund large-scale mental health programming. Instead, they provide significant support and ask participating schools to provide the remaining essential components within their budgetary means.
This year they experienced incredible growth. They expanded Fresh Check Day to a national reach that includes 14 states, with 58 events this year alone. Currently, they have signed-on 90 schools in 28 states, plus the District of Columbia, and counting.
In Connecticut, 22 institutions are participating, including: Gateway Community College on April 11, the University of Hartford on April 12, Norwalk Community College on April 19, University of Saint Joseph on April 19, University of Connecticut on April 22, Sacred Heart University on April 28, Three Rivers Community College on September 20, Connecticut College on September 22, Quinnipiac University on October 6, and Central Connecticut State University on October 17.
What can you do? Bring Fresh Check Day to your school. You can connect with Student Activities, Residential Life, Health Services, your school’s counseling services, or anyone you can think of on campus, and have them get in touch with the Jordan Porco Foundation. Or, you can e-mail the Jordan Porco Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce yourself, and the programming staff will help you.
“This was an eye opening experience,” said one college participant. “It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.” Added another: “As someone whose mental health had limited my life for some time, I want you to know that these things change lives. Your event made people feel valued and important and cared about. You may never hear thank you from everyone that today changed their life but I can promise you our campus is a safe place because of Fresh Check Day.”
Rachel Papke is Communications Coordinator at the Jordan Porco Foundation
The Jordan Porco Foundation is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Their programs strive to start a conversation about mental health that reduces stigma while encouraging help-seeking and supportive behaviors. Tickets to Jordan’s Journey Gala, their annual event in support of the Jordan Porco Foundation’s lifesaving programs are now available. The event is on March 25. Learn more at jordanporcofoundation.org or (860) 904-6041.