Fresh Check Day offers students on-campus resources for mental health

Junior Rebecca Camejo writes herself a compliment at the Healthy 'Cane Network’s Fresh Check Day on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Jenny Hudak

Junior Rebecca Camejo writes herself a compliment at the Healthy 'Cane Network’s Fresh Check Day on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Fresh Check Day offers students on-campus resources for mental health

By Jenny Hudak
The Healthy ’Cane Network hosted Fresh Check Day on the Foote University Green on Wednesday with interactive events and giveaways. The national initiative aims to prevent suicide and amplify the availability of mental health resources on university campuses.

The Healthy ’Cane Network, a collaborative effort within the University of Miami Division of Student Affairs that supports students' overall well-being, hosted its third Fresh Check Day on the Foote University Green on Wednesday. 

As the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults, Fresh Check Day is an uplifting event for universities across the nation. 

Anthony Musto, director of fitness programs for the Department of Wellness and Recreation and chair of Healthy ’Cane Network, highlighted the tremendous value of the collaborative effort and of programs like Fresh Check Day—and the benefit they provide in supporting students' mental health on campus. 

The Healthy ’Cane Network fosters an environment that contributes “to happiness, productivity, academic achievement, and overall life-satisfaction.” It interweaves the facilities, programs, and services of the Counseling Center, Housing and Residential Life, The Sandler Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education, Student Health Service, and the Department of Wellness and Recreation—all participated in Wednesday's event—to contribute to students’ well-being.  

“It's very difficult to get a message across virtually,” Musto said, noting that this was the first Fresh Check Day since 2019. “Students having to come out to be here, in front of another person physically, makes it very engaging for them. I think our message comes across much clearer through these events.”

Activities on the Foote University Green included interactive booths hosted by various student organizations. Participants could share notes of encouragement to LGBTQ+ youth in the community, practice journal prompts for mental wellness, and write body-positive messages about themselves. Attendees who walked through the resource fair also snagged free treats and giveaways.

Ashley Margaritondo, a senior studying health sciences and supervisor of the wellness and recreation “CHAMP” program, offered advice to her peers on working exercise into their busy schedules. She encouraged fellow students to stay active to reduce anxiety and stress levels by joining her in a quick game of Spikeball, which involves elements of foursquare and volleyball. 

“Even just a little bit of movement goes a long way to benefit your mood,” Margaritondo declared, adding that she keeps herself active by going for walks frequently, even between classes. 

Aidan Wells, a health educator for Student Health Service, worked with the student-led peer educators, a team that works to promote healthy decision-making through outreach, advocacy, and education, to engage with students about mental wellness beyond single events, like Fresh Check Day. 

“Our goal is really to provide students with the tools they need to practice personal well-being in their everyday life, not just on occasion,” she said. Attendees stopped by their interactive booth to practice positive self-talk by writing a compliment for themselves or picking up a take-home journal. 

Zachary Danney, a senior studying human resources management, represented the Veteran Student Organization (VSO). Danney, who serves as the president of the VSO, prompted his peers to practice gratitude by sharing what they're thankful for while educating participants at the event about veteran benefits that are available on campus and highlighting the importance of taking advantage of mental health resources. 

“One of the hardest parts of mental health struggles is reaching out for help,” Danney said. “When that help surrounds you, you know those resources are there. And when you have people actively trying to help you, you are in a lot better position to get help.” 

For more information on the Healthy 'Cane Network and other on-campus mental health resources for students, visit https://www.studentaffairs.miami.edu/well-being/healthy-cane-network/index.html.