The Blues Project hosts Beat the Blues Week at CSUN

Photo credit: America Calderon

The candlelight vigil held Friday night on Sierra Lawn was the last event in the mental health awareness campaign known as Beat the Blues Week, hosted by The Blues Project.

The weeklong series of events and workshops were organized by student volunteers whose mission is to prevent suicide by empowering students to overcome depression.

The Blues Project’s peer educators chose the theme “Power To Us” for this year’s Beat The Blues Week, now in its seventh year.

“The theme ‘Power to Us’ is geared towards creating a sense of empowerment for the CSUN community,” said Yasmin Irfani, who is the graduate coordinator of The Blues Project.

The student volunteers worked all year to organize Beat The Blues Week, said Irfani.

They kicked off the week with a mental health parade last Monday, followed by a tabling event held in the University Student Union on Tuesday.

Peer educators hosted a total of 10 different workshops throughout the week on topics such as depression and relationships, substance misuse in college, and social media’s effects on mental health.

Students were also given tools to manage the effects of depression in workshops titled Anxiety Management, and Self-compassion and Empowering Oneself.

Breaking down the stigma associated with talking to a psychologist is another one of the The Blues Project’s goals, said Irfani.

At the end of each workshop, volunteers educated students about the University Counseling Services’ resources and encouraged attendees to seek help if they find themselves struggling with depression or other mental illnesses.

According to Irfani, the week’s events were well-attended, and Blues Project staff had to turn students away after the room had filled to capacity at Thursday’s talks.

An intimate gathering of students, family and community members braved the cold for the candlelight vigil Friday evening. It was a safe space for people to share their experiences with depression and honor the memory of lives lost to suicide.

Martin** is a psychology major who attended several of the workshops and the vigil on Friday night.

He said he struggles with depression and was glad to see Northridge dedicate an entire week to mental health awareness.

“I’m walking away from it feeling less alone,” he said. “There are people who care about me, and they don’t even know me. That’s just so awesome to me.”

University Counseling Services is located on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall. Students are encouraged to visit in person, or check out the University Counseling Services website, for resources to help manage their mental health in college.

* Some pronouns and details have been changed, out of consideration for Safe Space.

** Student requested not to use a real name.