To bring awareness to depression, especially the kind that hits students as winter rolls in and the semester comes to an end, Ball State has brought Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, to the university to speak about the disorder.
Tworkowski will talk to students tonight at 7 p.m. in Pruis Hall. Tworkowski's Excellence in Leadership presentation, titled "Pain, Hope, Questions and Community: An Evening with To Write Love on Her Arms," will be free to the Ball State community.
Tworkowski founded TWLOHA in 2006. He began TWLOHA as a way to tell the story of 19-year-old Renee Yohe, who struggled with depression and attempted suicide. TWLOHA is now a global effort.
The nonprofit movement is for "presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide," according to twloha.com.
An American Psychological Association study reports that student depression has risen in overall numbers and severity.
John Guthman, author of the study and director of student counseling services at Hofstra University, said in a press release that the average quality of depression and anxiety experienced by students in counseling has remained constant and relatively mild during the past decade, but the percentage of students with moderate to severe depression has gone up from 34 to 41 percent.
Tworkowski travels the country especially to talk to teenagers and young adults, for whom depression has become an increasingly relevant topic.
TWLOHA has responded to more than 150,000 messages in more than 100 countries and donated more than $700,000 to self-infliction treatment and recovery efforts.
Ball State's depression awareness program, Alive Campaign, also worked to bring Tworkowski to Ball State.
Nick Hewitt, co-founder and former executive director of Alive Campaign, said depression, self-infliction and suicide affects students more than people seem to realize.
"[Suicide] is the third-leading cause of death for people our age," Hewitt said. "It is something that hasn't been addressed in previous generations, and it hasn't been addressed to us growing up through educational institutions, and now here we are and we don't know what to do."
The Alive Campaign is meant to provide depression awareness and suicide prevention to students. The Ball State chapter was founded in 2008 as a nonprofit organization.
Sophomore psychology and anthropology major Danielle Hurley said the opportunity to hear someone as personable as Tworkowski speak will affect Ball State students.
"He doesn't care about the attention, just like those of us who write love on our arms don't do it for the attention alone," Hurley said. "He cares about the people, just like those of us who write love on our arms do it to show people that there are those who care about them."