Every Friday morning, when most college students are looking forward to starting their weekend, Stacy Merlos is trying to figure out how she can help out.
“As long as I’m at CSUN I’m gonna be apart of this program. (They’re) never getting rid of me,” Merlos, 23, said with a wide smile.
Merlos joined the CSUN Blues Project three semesters ago following the suicide of one of her closest friends and fellow CSUN student, Dylan Miles.
The Blues Project is a partnership between the University Counseling Services and the psychology department with the intention to spread awareness about depression and suicide as well as inform students of the counseling services CSUN offers.
“I love it,” Merlos said. “I love the message it gets across. We are bringing awareness to classes.”
Merlos, who graduated with a degree in psychology last fall, first joined Blues with the intent to obtain more units toward graduation. Little did she know, talking about depression and suicide would help her find what she had been looking for.
“(Blues) helped me to deal with what I was feeling. I closed myself off,” she said. “He (Miles) is such a big part of my presentation, the video really hits home. I remember doing my first presentation and I remember crying.”
Before his death, Merlos remembers seeing signs of depression in Miles and even joking with him about his psychological state of mind. During that time Merlos had no real direction in how to handle Miles’ depression.
Now, aspiring to become a marriage and family counselor, Merlos hopes to one day help those experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Blues is such a big part of my life,” she said. “It’s something that helped me grow up and deal with things in my past.”
After earning the necessary units from being involved with Blues, Merlos is now a volunteer presenter. And even though it is no longer mandatory for her to attend the Friday classes, she often finds herself helping out in the Blues Project office filing papers or making copies.
Over the last year and a half Merlos has been a strong advocate in spreading the word of Blues, not just around campus, but throughout the community.
“For the first couple of weeks of the semester I’m pounding on people’s doors,” Merlos said of trying to find classes interested in hearing a Blues presentation.
When the program was first developed, presentations were done mostly for psychology classes, but over the past couple years sociology, business, communications and even yoga classes have been added to the roster.
Merlos hopes to one day spread the word to high schools and even middle schools throughout the surrounding cities. And although plans to do so are taking a little longer than she’d like, Merlos is happy staying right where she is.
“It’s a great program, it brings people together,” she said. “I don’t know how things would be if I didn’t have Blues.”