North Texas Daily

‘Tell me why you’re stressed’ student advocates for peers’ mental health

‘Tell me why you’re stressed’ student advocates for peers’ mental health

October 04
11:34 2017

Every Wednesday, psychology junior Scott Sellers dedicates his time to sitting outside the Union and holding an arranged blue, yellow, red and green-lettered sign that says, “Sit down and tell me why you’re stressed.”

Sellers has been holding this sign every Wednesday since fall 2016. With the message on his sign originally written in Sharpie, little to no people approached him at first. However, as time progressed, more students were intrigued by his welcoming memo — enough so that Sellers decided he had to make it a weekly ritual.

Even on this Wednesday in the blistering heat, Sellers is committed to his routine, no matter if people choose to sit with him or not. On this Wednesday, he is joined by biology sophomore Legacy Paris, a new friend of his. She holds a large umbrella to shield herself and Sellers from the sun.

“This is the first time I’ve actually sat down with him,” Paris said. “We only met [recently].”

One of the students to stop and talk to Sellers and Paris is criminal justice freshman Brandon Odell, whose struggle with time management was particularly causing him stress that day.

Odell said he’s having trouble juggling fraternity life, UNT’s club ultimate team, two flag football leagues and school.

“My major isn’t that stressful yet, it’s just classes and things,” Odell said. “I feel like talking to a stranger and getting some stuff off my chest is better sometimes than just talking to some friends.”

Sellers said people often go to friends, family or even strangers seeking help with their stress factors, but many people are reluctant to consult the professional help they might need.

“There is a stigma towards it,” Sellers said. “People feel like you’re only supposed to go to a psychologist, therapist or a psychiatrist if you’re really messed up.”

Sellers added that some parents enforce the idea of “walking it off” on their kids. This passive effect makes children think their worries are not relevant or authentic.

Sellers also thinks it should not be considered a weakness for men to admit they feel sad. Instead of repressing these emotions, they should talk about them instead.

“If it’s just some guy with a sign, people really do want to talk since psych wards and psychology aren’t associated with it,” Sellers said.

Sellers originally had aspirations to become a computer engineer rather than entering the psychology field. After he failed his calculus and programming classes, he realized he should pursue a career that he had been well-suited for since childhood.

“I thought, ‘Well, shoot, I don’t know how computer brains work, but I do know how regular brains work,’” Sellers said.

From a young age, Sellers would interact with other kids in a way his mom said “couldn’t be taught.” Even today, he is emotionally warm and friendly towards strangers, a trait he believes a lot of people do not have.

Since compassion comes easy to Sellers, the hardest part of holding his sign is the weather. The umbrella Paris is holding on this hot Wednesday is helping.

Paris participates in a group known as the “Hug Squad,” which congregates outside of the Business Leadership Building.

“I’m doing the same thing with the Hug Squad,” Paris said. “We give more physical affection.”

Paris said even in the short amount of time she has been sitting with Sellers, she has already felt positive changes reflecting in her attitude. She enjoys being able to reciprocate that with the people she meets through Hug Squad.

“I talked to one person and made them feel better about themselves, so that’s really good for me,” Paris said. “I like sitting here and helping people.”

Paris said the transition from high school to college is a change many students are unprepared for. Oftentimes when students are feeling the pressure of college, it is because they are overwhelmed with the amount of independence they have, and they don’t know how to form their schedules around it.

“There were no services dealing with the whole change from high school to college,” Paris said. “People are so stressed out and even might drop out simply because they have nobody to talk to.”

Overall, Paris said students should just be themselves and not let minor faults define them.

“Some of the things we do are wrong and could be done a little bit better,” Paris said. “But if you identify those things and work on what you’re not excelling in, everything will balance out.”

Featured Image: Psychology junior Scott Sellers sits outside of the Union with an invitation to talk through problems with students. Madison Gore

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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