Student organization provides support to those battling depression



Madeline Crandall

Nationally, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) was founded in 2006 after Jamie Tworkowski shared the story of a friend in need. By telling his friend’s story of addiction through a blog, he created a mass following that was the beginning of a national nonprofit organization.

TWLOHA has a Kent State chapter that supports people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicidal thoughts.

Kristen Young, a freshman anthropology major, is currently the social media coordinator for the Kent chapter. She explained that TWLOHA is more than just a therapy group, but a sheltered family that has been created on campus.

“When I first started, I knew that this would be a safe environment for me and it gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing, fun and new people,” Young said. “I like that it’s not a sit down counseling session but just a group of friends meeting together to discuss their day and feelings.”

The Kent State chapter started in 2011 and is composed of about 15 students who are regularly involved in their organization.

Haleigh Rush, a senior public health major and president of the chapter, said the goals of the organization have been the same since they were founded. 

“We have weekly meetings to be able to have a safe space to sit down and talk about anything mental health-related,” Rush said. “We do our best to educate people and a huge part of our mission is to reduce the stigma around mental health and change the way people sometimes negatively talk about mental illness.”

TWLOHA board members stressed that their core values they preach are acceptance, guidance, empathy and the importance of changing perspective to see more than one’s own opinion. As an organization, they are aware people each have their own stories that they want to share in a safe group of friends.

“When I saw this club at BlastOff, I was extremely interested,” Young said. “I joined then, and I honestly got more out of it than I ever would have imagined. I got a family away from my blood family back home, and it truly gave me a purpose here.”

On May 12, Kent’s TWLOHA will hold an online 5K fundraiser. This event is essentially an online donation and pledge to run or walk in the participant’s own community that day at their own time. 

In the past, TWLOHA has done different events such as benefit concerts for their organization. The concerts included live music, poetry speakers and people coming to share their story on an open mic.

“We have previously done things like concerts, and the 5K onsite and online. It was a great experience for everyone and a good turnout,” Rush said. “It’s amazing how many people will show up and dedicate their time and energy to a cause. We love to hear everyone’s stories and why they are there participating.”

Another interactive activity TWLOHA has done throughout campus is a “DeStress-Fest” in different residence halls, providing self-care awareness and destress tips to students.

“It was my favorite part hearing students come to us with their journey and tell some ways they deal with their mental health currently. We love to hear personal stories and see how far different people have come from experiences they’ve had,” Rush said. “When you openly talk about it, it generally becomes less scary.”

Madeline Crandall is an entertainment reporter, contact her at [email protected]