Thursday, April 23, 2015

Project G-Esteem- Our Campaign Profolio

Project G-Esteem Portfolio
|Isabel Reininger|  |Matt Rogers|  |Abner Pizano|
1.- Proposal:

The goal for this campaign was to raise awareness about students’ self esteem, their self image, and impact their lives by helping bring out the positive side. According to a news report by the New York Times February 5th , there has been noticeable increases in rates of reported depression and other reported feelings of linked to the pressures of college. In fact, the article states “Those who “felt overwhelmed” by schoolwork and other commitments rose to 34.6 percent from 27.1 percent from the previous year. (1) While colleges are dedicating more resources to mental health services, this increase may not be enough. A 2011 report done by the American College Health Assessment found that 30 percent of college students experienced feeling so depressed that “that it was difficult to function” at one point throughout the year. (2) As a result, our group feels that certain actions must be taken to help combat such feelings across UNL.
Our plan included multiple actions that helped spread awareness and positive messages across campus. Our group did an interview with psychologist Duke Engle from the Counseling and Psychology Services at UNL to gain more knowledge/insight about the issue, and spread positivity by posting pictures and flyers around campus. Also, we created a survey online that helped us to learn more about the relation between the days of the week and the moods of people (also seasons affecting their moods.) We engaged in positive action activities such as asking how are feeling on certain days. the group created a judgement free safe zone for people to express their current moods and feelings.This was held at the teacher’s college. In here people were free to come and talk about anything they wanted to talk about. Another idea was to join with the group S.M.I.L.E. on campus, hopefully if they have any events coming up to experience them firsthand and help us gain knowledge on how we can help impact others in terms of our goal for this project. We have a connection with Sarah Barg who is one of the main group advisors that can potentially direct us toward making our plan of action more effective, especially gaining any tips along the way.

People don’t really realize and understand how difficult each student’s life is. Everyone always assume that college is all about socialize, school and having fun. However, in reality this is not the case for many students. Often times students go through many difficulties and sometimes people aren’t aware of what’s really going on in their lives. Some are full time students working about 35+ hours a week, other students may experience a cultural shock coming from different communities, and are not able to adapt as well as other students. Homesickness, relationships, friendships, grades, substance abuse are just some of other issues students deal with while in college. Since the project it’s going to take place in campus, all UNL members such as students, faculty, and staff would be our rhetorical audience.

There are a few constraints in this project. First of all, the fear that people won’t have a good response towards some of the activities we will do for the project. This could be due to many reasons. For example, some people may not take this seriously and think of it as a joke, or some other people may experience a cultural barrier that hinders them from understanding some of the aspects of this project. While social awareness of depression or a low self esteem’s effects is higher than previous years, a negative social stigma is still attached to this issue. As a result, our actions may be viewed as misguided or unnecessary. Another constraint is that we may not get enough survey responses. This could be a problem, for if this happens we wont have enough data and insights to know when, and how to execute the activities that we have planned for this project. Finally, the last constraint would be not getting permission from the union to develop the activities we have in mind.

This is a fitting way to make an impact and produce a change in the life of students by encouraging them in different ways to keep going, by boosting their confidence so they would feel better about themselves, and to seek help if they need it. This would not only make an impact on the student body on campus, but on the faculty and staff as well. It would help them realize how many struggles students go through. We hope this would  encourage them to care more about their students, and be a bit more involved in their life and improve the student-professor relationship.  

Invention: This project is an attempt to improve people’s self concept and empowerment of each individual. As college students, we’re familiar with the stress that arises from being in multiple classes attempting to find the balance between our social, work and academic life. We want people to recognize their potential and that they can persevere through any challenge that they take on more effectively with a positive mindset.
Arrangement: We will use the survey and our connection with S.M.I.L.E. to gather most of the information directed towards our project. With that knowledge, we will enforce our ideas by putting up pictures/memes around campus, hanging posters and engaging students with other activities planned (compliments, free hugs, etc). Regarding social media, each member will constantly tweet and post about our topic to spread the word in attempt to get our hash-tag trending and/or at least see our followers using it. Twitter and Facebook will be our main sources of media, Instagram and Snapchat will also be useful tools along with texting our friends about the project to gain followers and potentially spreading the word about our project to various universities.
Style: Our approach will be directed towards the greater population on campus but affect them on a more individualistic level, meaning its directed towards everyone but each person will be impacted by it differently.  Our behavior won’t be overwhelming or in your face, moreover subtle ways to make a positive impact on others by affirming positive actions and messages.
Memory: This is a topic that most students have dealt with at some point during college. We all are on the same boat since we all are students, and have a good sense about what most people struggle with during college. Students can benefit from it, for they can help each other out by sharing ways to cope with different issues.
Delivery: While our methods will use formal approaches such as Interviews with professional physciatrists, we will mostly focus on broad, informal approaches to allow for a larger audience. Use of relevant cultural symbols will display knowledge of current social themes within our culture in a manner related to our exigence. Our goal in our delivery is not to insult those feeling overwhelmed or stress, but rather inspire resilience and endurance in the face of various levels of adversity.

Matt will mainly conduct the interviews, and assist with posters. Abner is managing our survey along with the posters and pictures we’ll put up throughout campus.  Isabel is in charge of connecting with Sarah Barg (main administrator) of S.M.I.L.E. We’ll help each other throughout the project, especially with the Facebook page and Twitter hashtag we’re going to create. We’ve made a Google Doc and GroupMe for this project to keep each other updated on our progress and any questions that arise.

Timeline (10 Weeks) :
  • Week 1 |February 23rd-March 1st| :
Proposal made
  • Week 2 |March 2nd-8th| :
Start gathering contact information for interviewees, and start developing survey.
  • Week 3 |March 9th-15th|:
Contact interviewees and set up a time for the interview. Survey completed and ready to share with people
  • Week 4 |March 16th-22| :
Interviews completed (depending on availability of the person being interviewed). Gather survey from data and put into an infographic.
  • Week 5 |March 23rd-29th|:
No school (Spring break)
  • Week 6 |March 30th-April 5th|:
Posters and Flyers done
  • Week 7 |April 6th-12|:
Execute activities on campus
  • Week 8 |April 13th-19th|
Work on Portfolio
  • Week 9 |April 20th- 26|
Portfolio Due
  • Week 10 |April 27th-May 3rd|
Campaign presentation

Article 1: Schwarz, Alan. "More College Freshmen Report Having Felt Depressed." The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Feb. 2015. Web.

Article 2: "Depression and College Students." NIMH RSS. National Institute of Mental Health., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Article 3: “NvolveU: Sign In.” S.M.I.L.E. (Small Moments in Life Everyday). UNL Smile, Web. No date available.

2.- Explanation of what we did:
Our project was mostly based on research the group did. We collected interviews with professionals and group leaders on campus to gain more insight about stress, anxiety, and depression . We also created a survey that was send out to students to learn more about their behaviors and moods. The survey was conducted online through survey monkey. Students were send out the link to the survey and they were able to fill it out wherever there was an internet connection. The survey was made of 10 question all multiple choice. Half of the question was to gain knowledge about general information about the person such as age, gender, class, major, place they live at, and student status. The other half of the questions helped us to know about what were some factors that cause stress/anxiety/depression on students, the way they deal with it, and how effective their way of dealing with things is.Research was a crucial part in this project because based on the results we were able to determine the best way to approach this campaign, and how to reach out to our audience.

  1. Interview
As stated above, interviews were a large part of our campaign. One interview we gained information was through a psychologist at the Center of Psychological Services (CAPS). At CAPS students are provided with mental support programs and help. Located on the second floor of the Health Center, CAPS provides services to hundreds of students on UNL’s campus. On Tuesday, March 31st, Matt interviewed Duke Engel, the drug and alcohol recovery supervisor. Duke Engel has many backgrounds in areas regarding depression, bipolar, and anxiety related issues as well. The information gained was vital to our project and campaign. Through this meeting information about  reasons for the development of mental illnesses and key notes regarding UNL’s approach to such issues was gather.
Depression and anxiety are the two most treated illnesses at UNL, with anxiety overtaking depression as the most treated issue on campus. Many of these issues are linked to a decrease in grades, with school being the number one factor in those coming to CAPS for help. For us, this made sense, for on the online survey 24 out of the 27 choose exams and grades as being their top most stressing factor.  Easy signs to help identify those suffering from such illnesses would be falling  grades and attendance for many students, as well as a decrease in noticeable personality traits, like suddenly becoming asocial.
Duke also noted a rise in illnesses across campus, in which he claims can be linked nationwide. He claims two possible theories are the root cause. The first theory is in regards to the massive increase in psychological services in high school and colleges around the nation. In the past, many students suffering from such issues did not speak up or seek help, for there was none to be had. Others did not attend college or activities that provided massive amounts of stress. Today, the rise in treated mental illness on college campus might be due to the decreased stigma on mental health and the large increases in provided services. This rise of treatment has allowed students to express themselves or students with issues who could not attend previously know are enrolled.The second theory Duke claims might be responsible for this increase is specifically linked to our generation’s lack of studying and time management skills. As a result, these lack of skills can lead to failing grades, the number one cause of depression or help at CAPS as stated above. To many, an F on a paper or a class becomes an existential crisis rather than just a bad grade. Students who come into college fail to realize everyone else is intelligent as well, not appealing to the lowest common denominator. To many students, this realization along to failing grades can put one on a dark path. In response to a question regarding different levels of illnesses based on major, Duke’s “gut feeling” was that depression and anxiety had a significantly larger representation in the Engineering and Architecture majors. This is based on their long hours of work and relative isolation from other majors. For treatment, Duke recommended exercise as the most immediate and fast acting way to treat many illnesses. the endorphins released via exercise naturally make us feel good, and Duke notes that continued exercise can help treat issues as a large coping mechanism. Along with exercise, Duke calls for students to develop “coping mechanisms.” These are just hobbies or activities that cause enjoyment for those suffering. This can be as simple as going on a walk or fishing. Medication is also key for Duke, as long term treatment requires the use of medication to help balance the chemicals that distort one’s mental image and mindset.  With Duke’s interview, we gained a new perspective regarding mental illness among college students. Our interview with Duke overall gave us a greater understanding of the issues faced by UNL, and faced by our own campaign.

  1. Free talk.
Within our project, one of our main activities was to hold a free speech zone within some building on campus that receives a good amount of foot traffic. This was an attempt to target students in a major that might be seen as one regarding high levels of stress, while allowing a sense of privacy many open areas do not allow. A “free talk zone” in the southeast corner of the teachers Union was held for about 2-3 hours. This was an attempt to target those who were dealing with stress regarding school work, grades, and final projects or tests. However, there was only 4 people that came up to discuss their issues. On top of that, the responses were varied, with only one response regarding their mental health issues. The other responses were related to stress, yet were not directly related to mental health issues. This brings up an interesting problem faced by our group. How do we approach an issue that has been demonized by stigma and already discourages many to speak about their issues? Would a bigger area (the Union) have had a negative or positive response due to the amount of foot traffic?

  1. Posters(memes).
Based on the information gather from the survey and the interview with Duke, we then proceeded to make some picture and post them around school. Some of the places where we put the pictures were Abel, Architecture Hall, Othmer Hall, and the Nebraska Union. We decided to go with memes because they have the ability to spread from person to person within a culture. Memes are something that most people share with others. For example, a student can take a picture of one of the memes we posted an send it to some of his friends through Snapchat or via text message. They are relatable to students and our main goal is to help lighten the mood and stresses they’ll dealing with.  Our focus of them is about studying, classes, professors and motivation since these are something we experience as students.  Most of them are some of the more common which helps the familiarity appealing to our audience. These memes will get across to our audience because of the longevity and imitation of these examples; most people have seen these pictures at some point which helps strengthen the familiarity of these examples.  People have multivariate interpretations of the same meme which relates differently to each person.  

3) Evidence of the  intervention
A- Survey

B- Interview                                                           C- Meme examples



D- Memes on campus
Trash can/bike racks outside Architecture hall   

Trash cans outside the Union

4) Reflection on the project

Overall the project went along the lines of average expectations. While we didn’t accomplish many of our goals, we learned a lot of useful and valuable information that we can take with us and put into practice in our lives to improve the life of the commons on our own. Whether is a classmate, a close friend, or a family member thats dealing with anxiety or depression this project taught us how to help and encourage those people, and by doing so improving and having a positive effect on those people’s lives so they can later do the same thing for others. At the beginning of the project we didn't have any struggles. We were able to figure out what we wanted to do right away, and we were able to come up with the proposal and some of the main ideas for the campaign. one thing that we struggle with was the response that some of our activities got. For example, the survey. We created the survey before spring break, and each and one of us shared it on social media and emailed to all our classes. We kept the survey open until last week. Even though we did that, we only got 27 responses.Sending out the survey earlier could have helped us gather better information or helped spread the word out sooner. Another thing that we struggle with was getting in contact with some of the people that we interviewed. We sent out emails a few days prior to spring break, and for one contact we didn't hear back from her until 2 weeks ago or so.  Some thoughts for improvement is that we could figure out another more efficient way to gather information about our audience rather than just a survey.We also could have done the free talk event at the union where there is more conglomeration of people. Instead of trying to target a specific audience, a free speech zone in the Union would have been beneficial in regards to the amount of responses. Ideals like a notice in advance would have brought more attention to students so we could gather more information in return. This was a failure on our part to not recognize that a larger area with many people would’ve possibly made the act of talking to Matt more comfortable for their conversation would’ve been covered by ambient noise. With many feeling mental health is an issue best discussed in private, a large area with lots of conversations would blend together, allowing a safe zone. As a result, our findings for the free speech zone were lackluster. This is just one of many mistakes we have learned from. All in all these project taught us many very valuable lessons on our own focus and on others. SMILE’s lack of response made us realize that the world does not revolve around our issue, as others are doing similar activities. Instead, we must make it an issue in the future, and be more assertive in our efforts to allow for better developments to unfold. Despite these fallbacks, Our group believes our Campaign was mostly successful in regards to our goals.

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